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Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), railroad executives, and several state and local officials on Friday marked the reopening of Tower 55, a 141-year-old interlocking in downtown Fort Worth, Texas.The nation’s busiest rail interlocking is used by 110 freight and passenger trains daily, including those operated by BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad. Tower 55 was retrofitted via a $101 million project that eliminated three grade crossings and a critical chokepoint in the nation’s rail network. A $34 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant helped fund the project.Constructed in 1873, Tower 55 accommodates rail traffic from the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, as well as Mexico and Canada. The project was completed though a cooperative venture between the rail industry and state and federal governments. "Safety is our highest priority and these upgrades at Tower 55 will help further reduce the already declining number of grade crossing accidents in Texas," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a press release.The improved traffic flow through the interlocking will enhance the flow of commerce, minimize wait times for trains and reduce the number of blocked crossings, Federal Railroad Administration officials said. For example, the elimination of the Peach Street crossing clears the way for children to safely get to and from school without crossing tracks, they said."Tower 55 exemplifies what is possible when industry and government work together," said Szabo. "With predictable, dedicated funding for rail we will can strengthen our national economy with similar projects in the future and enhance safety."
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