Washington, D.C. – The dangerously narrow Galveston Causeway Railroad Bridge that was declared a hazard to navigation by the Coast Guard in 2001 is another step closer to replacement today after several members of Congress announced additional federal funding.
Houston-area Reps. Gene Green (D-Houston), Ted Poe (R-Humble), John Culberson (R-Houston) and Ron Paul (R-Lake Jackson), who all requested funding for the bridge replacement project at the beginning of the appropriations process earlier this year, announced that the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security approved $5 million for the project, which supplements previous years’ appropriations totaling $25.8 million. The estimated total cost of the project is $68 million.
“Replacing this bridge is crucial for several industries in our area, plus it would help ensure the safety of barge operators, recreational vehicles on the water, and the bridge itself,” Green said.
Paul said he was proud to support the project for the benefit of Galveston. “I have always said it is important to take care of our infrastructure here at home,” he said.
Barges up to 104 feet wide and 1000 feet long carry 29 million tons of cargo through a 105-foot gap in the Galveston Causeway Railroad Bridge every year. Strong winds and currents and limited visibility often contribute to accidents that cause more than $5 million in damage annually.
“The Galveston Causeway Railroad Bridge is the most hazardous spot on the entire Gulf Intracoastal Waterway,” Poe said. “More accidents occur there than at any other bridge on the Gulf Coast. I appreciate the work by my colleagues in the Texas Congressional delegation to address a risk to our citizens, the environment and the efficient flow of commerce. This funding moves us closer to a construction start on this important project.”
Federal funding for the widening project, which must still be approved by the House Appropriations Committee and the full House of Representatives, will be supplemented by a 10 percent contribution from Galveston County. The estimated cost includes design, engineering, and construction of a new 300-foot navigation span lift bridge.
“The Galveston Causeway Railroad Bridge is an essential part of the infrastructure and economy of Southeast Texas, and replacing this aging bridge will improve the flow of goods and traffic and ensure a vibrant economy,” Culberson said. “As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I was pleased to work with my colleagues from Southeast Texas to help secure funding for this vital project.”