Freeport, Texas – January 25, 2018: The Texas Department of Transportation approved funding in the amount of $600,000 for the Brazoria Fort Bend Rail district (BFBRD) to conduct a planning level study for a direct freight corridor from Freeport to an intermodal hub near Rosenberg. The study will build from an initial analysis jointly funded by Brazoria and Fort Bend Counties and Port Freeport in 2015 and will more definitively address rail traffic market projections, economics, constraints, environmental considerations, potential alignments, and preliminary cost estimates. The effort will also include a focus on gaining public input and involvement.
Sean Stockard, Chairman of the BFBRD commented: “This is a significant step forward in being able to thoroughly address the multitude of factors to be considered in reaching a final decision to construct a freight movement system and attract private investors. It is clear that with the expansion of both the Panama Canal and Port Freeport, the volume of freight coming into Texas and Port Freeport will increase. A direct freight corridor will position our area to compete for new opportunities and continue the economic development and job growth in the area. I would emphasis that at this time, no route has been selected.”
The expansion of the Panama Canal allows the larger container ships to proceed from the Asian market directly to the U.S. East coast. Port Freeport is positioned to be the gateway for the import, export and domestic distribution of containerized freight throughout the Central U.S. corridor with the deepening the Freeport Harbor Channel to 55 feet. Paul Kresta, Chairman for Port Freeport noted: “A direct freight route between the Port and the Rosenberg intermodal hub will complement the Port’s projects to deepen the Freeport Harbor Channel and expand its container terminal. Efficient inland freight movement significantly reduces freight costs, transportation travel time, and will help attract more business and create more jobs for the surrounding communities.”
Fort Bend Commissioner Andy Meyers added: “Considering all three elements moving forward – Port Freeport deepening and expansion, Highway 36 and 36A improvements by TxDOT, and the short line rail from Freeport to Rosenberg, there is a unique opportunity to transform our region into the main gateway serving Texas, Dallas Fort Worth, and the Central U.S. With this transformation will come significant economic development, greater than that along the Grand Parkway, and substantial job and income growth, all working for the benefit of our citizens.”
Adding to the increased containerized freight expected to enter Port Freeport, Brazoria and Fort Bend Counties have experienced a $25 billion plus industrial expansion over the recent period. Additional capital expansion programs continue to be announced. A significant amount of the product generated from these firms leaves the area as rail or truck cargo currently traveling through the Houston metropolitan area. A direct route will not only help reduce the current traffic congestion in the Houston area but companies in the area will have the opportunity to reduce freight costs for inbound and out bound materials and products. Brazoria County Commissioner Dude Payne commented: “Favorable transportation capabilities will be a factor in continuing to see expansion of our existing industrial base as well as attracting new companies – all driving job growth and increased tax base.”