TxDOT got approval from the Federal Highway Administration to move forward on the West Rail Project in Brownsville.

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The project is a cooperative effort among TxDOT, Cameron County, city of Brownsville, the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority and Mexico. It will relocate the Union Pacific Railroad line out of downtown Brownsville and Matamoros.

On the U.S. side, the improvements would relocate the existing railway from the U.S. 77/83 rail junction to a switching yard to the west and then south to the Rio Grande River.

Project plans include construction of a new international rail bridge, crossing over the International Boundary and Water Commission levee and U.S. 281, and construction of about 5.85 mi of a single-rail track from the new international rail bridge to U.S. 77/83.

The construction cost on the United States side is estimated at $35 million. Mexico’s cost is estimated at $50 million.

Work was anticipated to start at press time, but “some pending issues need to be addressed before the county can award a contract,” Amy Rodriguez, TxDOT’s district spokeswoman, tells Texas Construction. Cameron County received bids in late July, says Pete Sepulveda Jr., county administrator. He confirmd that construction was to begin in October, with completion set for March 2012. McCarthy Building Cos., St. Louis, was the low bidder, at $24.67 million. The proposed project would eliminate 11 at-grade crossings in downtown Brownsville.