Rail in Houston, Texas

TGB Group was hired by W&P Development Corporation of Texas to provide civil design services for a Houston industrial park development served by the Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway. Our tasks included design for approximately 12,000 feet of railroad track, remote power turnouts adjacent to a Class I railroad main line, and more than 100,000 feet of additional track inside the industrial park.

Rail design

The rail portion of the project included nearly 75 custom Vossloh turnouts with radar and rail car identification technology to provide exact, positive location information of more than 4,000 cars that eventually will be held in the park. This is a first-of-its-kind yard in the United States and will make locating customers’ cars when released a much more efficient process.

Special consideration was taken for design and operational integrity where the industrial rail met the proposed Class I railroad. TGB Group analyzed the options of wood, steel and concrete ties to determine which would be the most economical while keeping in mind long-term maintenance for the client.

In addition to the rail, there was an 800-plus-acre site design that called for a drainage plan with more than six miles of ditches, one and a half miles of access roads, more than 150,000 cubic yards of dirt work, utility design and mitigation, as well as three road crossings.


As many in the industry know, throughout the Houston area there are buried pipelines that must be considered in any project that includes digging. In our project, there were two water wells that required capping, a 24-inch water line that had to be encased, and three petroleum company pipelines to address. One of these was a 24-inch crude line that was deep enough to not require encasing. The other two were much shallower. TGB Group worked with the client and the pipeline owners to arrange for the lines to be encased so that railroad tracks could safely be installed over them.

Other project elements TGB Group managed included:

  • Topographic and ALTA surveys
  • Environmental site assessments
  • Geotechnical investigation
  • Sub-surface utility investigation
  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan

Additionally, we worked with the Army Corps of Engineers on a Wetlands Jurisdictional Determination.

Approvals and project launch

The project was designed according to the Class I railroad’s industrial design standards and the American Railway Engineering Maintenance of Way Association guidelines. After handing over the initial design, TGB Group worked closely with the client and representatives from the short line railroad and the Class I railroad during the review process to receive approval.

The site plan was submitted to the Class I railroad for review and approval in the spring of 2017. The design was completed in summer of 2017. The developer required a fast-track design schedule for the project, and all timelines were met or exceeded, allowing construction to begin at the specified time.

If you’d like to know more about TGB Group’s involvement in this project, please contact:

Mike Murphy, president, TGB Group: (832) 748-7603
Brad Sullivan, W&P Development: bsullivan@sjrr.us