City of

Federal Legislative Agenda 2017


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Grade Separation Opportunities

Situation Assessment

Union Pacific Railroad (UP) and the Kansas City Southern Railroad (KCS) have operated in Laredo and have used the city as a crossing point between the U.S. and Mexico for over a century.  The Kansas City Southern rail line, which runs east west, bisects the city’s downtown and the Union Pacific Railroad, which runs north/ south and similarly bisects neighborhoods the length of the City.  When KCS trains going into Mexico are stopped for southbound inspection (going into Mexico) they block all of the north-south at grade crossings leading to and from the downtown.  These blockages can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes.  Trains traveling north (from Mexico into the U.S.) also stop and block the at grade crossings leading to downtown.  The Union Pacific Railroad experiences the same problems on their north-south bound lines.  However, since UP has begun to use the area immediately adjacent to the international bridge as a de-facto switching yard, and the train lengths have increased, blocked at grade crossings (including the City’s designated truck route) have grown more frequent and are blocked for longer periods of time.  Reports from residents of affected neighborhoods indicate that in some instances the grade crossings are shut down for 6-8 hours. The effect on mobility and especially emergency response is significant.


Proposed Solution

Grade Separation Opportunities

The City is undergoing a railroad mobility study in conjunction with the Texas Department of Transportation Rail Division (lead agency).  As part of the study potential grade separations will be identified along both the KCS and UP lines.  However, without any assistance from the State of Texas or the federal government (and since the railroad companies are not required to participate financially to any significant degree), the City is be obligated to bear the financial burden of implementing any grade separation opportunities.  Given the tremendous amount of cargo that crosses the international rail bridge and the national significance of Laredo as an inland port, federal funds should be allocated to programs within the Federal Rail Administration to provide for grade separation projects.


Target Agency

Federal Railroad Administration



Nathan Bratton

Planning and Zoning Director

1120 San Bernardo Avenue

P.O. Box 579

Laredo, Texas 78042

Phone: (956) 794-1613

Fax: (956) 794-1624