Fort Worth has always been a special place, surrounded by history but always driving the future. In the 1800s, cowboys drove millions of longhorns through our streets and stockyards, giving our city its lasting nickname: Cowtown. At the same time, railroad tracks were being laid alongside the cattle trails, powering the growth of our city and country, and eventually creating a new economy. Fort Worth’s BNSF Railway has been part of that story for over a century and a half.
Headquartered here in Texas 12, BNSF Railway employs almost 7,000 Texans, a number that includes almost 2,000 Texas 12 residents. Today, the same BNSF Railway tracks that helped spur America’s industrialization move passengers and goods across our state, from the Piney Woods to El Paso and beyond.
I visited BNSF’s headquarters in 2011, a year I also secured $50 million in funding for Texas 12 transportation projects, which included much-needed improvements at Tower 55. Just south of downtown Fort Worth, Tower 55 marks America’s busiest railroad crossing, where BNSF and Union Pacific lines extend out to the West Coast, Midwest, Mexico, and Canada. Congestion was delaying travel and critical shipments, while children on their way to school had to climb between idling engines blocking the streets. Since Fort Worth’s earliest days—when residents first helped lay the Texas and Pacific tracks—our leaders have ensured that key transportation projects get built. I felt the same determination, and the Tower 55 project was completed just a few years later. Traffic reductions around the Tower have since cut carbon emissions by almost 100,000 tons a year, while the rail lines boost our economy and make our city a crossroads of the Southwest.
In 2019, I returned to BNSF’s headquarters, where I spoke to its hardworking employees and was presented with GoRail and the Association of American Railroads’ “Railroad Achievement Award.” I’m proud to be the first member of the House of Representatives to receive the honor, and even prouder of my work in funding rail traffic improvements throughout our metroplex, creating economic opportunity while enhancing America’s supply chain.
Last year, I led the Texas Congressional delegation in sending a letter to BNSF’s leadership recognizing its history in our state, as its rail lines opened Texas up to settlement and then the world market, transforming “Cowtown” into the city “where the West begins.” Below is BNSF’s then-CEO, Carl Ice, posing with the letter and joined by BNSF’s new CEO Katie Farmer, who just became the first woman to lead a major American railroad.
The history of Fort Worth and the West show how railroads helped pull America into the 21st century, while BNSF in our backyard shows that trains aren’t just part of our past. In Washington and Fort Worth, I’ll keep working to support the infrastructure projects that keep our state’s people, goods, and services moving, today—and long into the future.