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Federal money to be used to try to fix traffic woes caused by stalled trains in Houston's East End

The Federal Railroad Administration recently awarded Houston $36.9 million to build ways around the train tracks that cause headaches for so many drivers.

HOUSTON — Help is coming to those who drive in Houston's East End.

Trains can sometimes sit on the tracks for hours with nowhere to go, but the Federal Railroad Administration recently awarded Houston $36.9 million to build ways around the train tracks.

The new money will help build an underpass, allowing cars to get through the area more easily. Currently, the trains are causing drivers major headaches.

"I've had to just wait for an hour or two because I can't get to my office," Elyse Herman said. "You can't even get around sometimes because it's all the way on the tracks."

Frustrated commuters, as well as neighbors, say something has to change. One in three trains that comes through the area will sit there for, on average, an hour.

"For a really long time, the City of Houston has not invested in the kind of infrastructure that residents need to be able to get past trains that sometimes sit for hours," Eastwood Civic Association board member Clay Dippel said.

Now, there's a solution for some of the issues that run between Runnels and Leeland streets. The FRA is giving money to help the City build railroad underpasses at Commerce Street and Navigation Boulevard and in three places on York Street in the East End.

"A train that's parked in place and not moving for hours at a time, this is going to be a critical way through for safety and for people who need to be able to get past these trains," Dippel said.

The project will help the City of Houston's Advance A Phase 1 effort to create a 14,600-foot sealed corridor along the Houston Belt and Terminal Railroad's (HB&T) rail line. Phase 1 includes a 9,000-foot sealed corridor and construction will result in seven existing grade crossings being eliminated -- four being closed and four with underpasses.

"Traffic will be able to move more smoothly, without undue interruptions. No. 2, the community will be safer," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

The FRA will be in Houston on Wednesday to celebrate the project. 

Gerald Harris on social media: Facebook | Twitter

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