Welcome to the
Gulf Coast Rail District
The Gulf Coast Rail District (GCRD) is a political subdivision of the State of Texas created to enhance the economic benefits of rail and passenger transport while improving regional quality of life. Harris County, the City of Houston, and Fort Bend County created the Gulf Coast Rail District under authority granted by the State of Texas in Section 171 of the Transportation Code. The Port Houston was instrumental in convening key stakeholders throughout the region to formalize a vision of a rail district, which resulted in City of Houston, Harris County, and Fort Bend County creating the Gulf Coast Rail District.
GCRD’s Mission and Vision include improving safety and security at rail crossings to include grade separations and increasing mobility, access and quality of life. GCRD promotes multimodal mobility leading to commuter rail, bus rapid transit and advanced technologies to improve regional passenger transport.
GCRD is governed by a board of directors consisting of fourteen appointees, one Ex Officio member appointed by the Texas Transportation Commission, one Ex Officio member appointed by Gulf Coast Transit District formerly Galveston Transit District and one Ex Officio member appointed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. The GCRD Chair is jointly appointed by Harris County Commissioners Court and the Mayor of the City of Houston. Other members include appointments by the Chairman of the Port Houston and appointments by City of Houston, Harris County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, Montgomery County, and Waller County, as well as the Harris County Mayors and Councils Association and Fort Bend Mayor and Council Association. GCRD held its first meeting in August of 2007.
Near-term, the Gulf Coast Rail District wants to grade separate the rail crossings that will have the most impact on roadway safety and multimodal mobility and to initiate passenger transport in Harris County and counties adjacent to Harris County that are critical to the region’s growth. Gulf Coast Rail District will work to facilitate the development and construction of these facilities.
Long-term, the Gulf Coast Rail District believes it is possible to enhance freight rail operations and capacity in a few of the region’s existing corridors to the benefit of freight railroads and the multimodal regional transportation network.
This vision will require extensive coordination and partnership with the Class I railroads operating in the Houston region.
The Gulf Coast Rail District was created to enhance the economic benefits of rail, while improving regional quality of life through the following goals:
Improve safety and security, particularly safety at grade crossings and as it relates to rail transportation.
Increase mobility, access and quality of life.
The West Belt Improvement Project (Phase 1) has been awarded $36.9 million through the Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE) Grant Program administered by the Federal Railroad Administration. The City of Houston is the sponsor, however, the history of this project began with the Gulf Coast Rail District before 2012. Our collaborative efforts through THE HART committee helped to make this application a success. Thank you to all who have contributed to this project over the years!
Mayor Sylvester Turner held a Press Conference on the Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program on June 7, 2023. The Mayor’s Press Release stated, “This funding is a crucial step in improving transportation equity for all users,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “The West Belt Improvement Project will help address the impacts of slow, stopped and longer trains that block crossing by eliminating the at grade conflict. This will enhance safety for our first responders and increase travel reliability for those commuting and living in the East End.”
The Houston Mayor’s Office posted on Twitter, “Today I was excited to announce that @HoustonTX is a recipient of the Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant. I am proud of the work we have accomplished as we seek to make meaningful and transformational investments in infrastructure and multi-modal transportation.🚂💨”