Houston City Council members authorized the submission of a grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation at their weekly Feb. 15 meeting for Phase 1 of the West Belt Improvement Project.

The grant application for over $36 million would go toward railroad and street connections that have been known problems in east downtown in Houston's districts H and I, District H Council Member Karla Cisneros said at the meeting. Funds, if awarded, will come from USDOT's Federal Railroad Administration Railroad Crossing Elimination Program.

The plan entails a 14,600-foot sealed rail corridor along the Houston Belt & Terminal Railroad’s West Belt Subdivision. The first phase also includes the construction of four underpasses—at Sampson, York and Commerce streets and at Navigation Boulevard—and the closure of four at-grade crossings.

Phase 1 also has the potential to create a 9,000-foot sealed corridor and quiet zone in districts H and I.

“I know the federal government will see the value and fund this request,” District I Council Member Robert Gallegos said at the meeting.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said he hopes the city will hear back regarding this federal funding in a couple of months.