The Efficient and Safe Rail Exports to Mexico (ESREM) Project

The Efficient and Safe Rail Exports to Mexico (ESREM) Project is a $8,277,300 project seeking a $4,138,652 Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) grant to upgrade rail infrastructure in the Port of Brownsville.  The ESREM Project is a partnership between the Brownsville Navigation District (BND) and the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway, LLC (BRG), a privately managed freight railroad operating infrastructure owned by the port.  The project will improve rail safety and enhance efficiency while reducing disruptions to traffic in the port.  It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect and create high quality living-wage jobs in a city that is 90% Hispanic and one of the poorest in America.

Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway President Norma Torres describes the ESREM Project and the partnership between BRG and the Port of Brownsville

Brownsville is a small port that has grown dramatically over the past 20 years as it has become a major gateway for shipping steel and liquid fuels to Mexico.  Freight unloaded from ships in Brownsville can move to Mexican destinations by either rail or truck.  Antiquated port rail infrastructure constrains the ability of the railroad to competitively handle a larger share of freight to Mexico.  As a result, unnecessary volumes of freight move by truck, increasing carbon emissions, reducing air quality, and impacting traffic and congestion on truck routes to the Mexican border.  Brownsville is in heated competition with the Mexican port of Altamira and losing traffic to Altamira costs Brownsville – and the United States – good-paying jobs.

The ESREM Project will upgrade three important interrelated components in the port:

  1. Rail & switch replacement on the “North Lead” tracks
  2. New double track bridge and double track rail lines at the entrance to the port
  3. New weigh-in-motion rail car scale in the port

Table of application appendices

PIDP Project info form:        ESREM_PIDP_Proj_info.pdfFY 2021 PIDP Project Information form

A. Appendix:                           ESREM_A_Narrative.pdfThis appendix.

B. Benefit-cost analysis:         ESREM_B_BCA.xlsx– Benefit-Cost Analysis in MS Excel form.

C. BCA explanation:              ESREM_C_BCA_explanation.pdf – Explanation of the BCA.

D. Documentation letters:     ESREM_D_Document_letters.pdfLetters from the heads of relevant departments and consultants explaining values used in the BCA and this appendix.

E. NEPA review memo:         ESREM_E_NEPA_memo.pdf– Memo from Golder Associates analyzing the anticipated EA/CE environmental review process for the ESREM Project.

F. Support letters:                  ESREM_F_Support.pdf– Letters of support from:  U.S. Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Representatives Filemón Vela (TX-34) and Vicente Gonzales (TX-15), State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., State Rep. Alex Dominguez, Cameron Co. Judge Eddie Treviño, and additional community leaders and port customers. Updated Aug. 5, 2021 to add support of State Rep. Eddie Lucio, III.

G. Project budget:                  ESREM_G_Budget.xlsx – Budget documents, including tables used in this appendix.

H. Commitment letter:          ESREM_H_Commit_letter.pdf– Letters from BRG / OmniTRAX, Inc pledging 50.0% match for the project.

I. KMZ shapefile:                   ESREM_I_KMZ.kmz – GoogleEarth map file.

J. Map and impacted areas:  ESREM_J_Map.pdf – Map and list of impacted communities.