WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), and U.S. Representative Michael Guest (R-Miss.) today welcomed the approval of a $1.5 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help construct a new rail crossing on Highway 18 in Brandon.

The project would eliminate an at-grade crossing and replace it with a grade-separated bridge and additional travel lane over the Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS).

“For far too long, drivers along Highway 18 looking to get to school, the airport, or to work have faced delays because of the current rail crossing in Brandon,” Wicker said.  “Improving this crossing will play a key role in reducing congestion, improving safety, and boosting commerce in Rankin County as it continues to grow.”

“Steady and projected growth of Brandon and Rankin County requires important infrastructure improvements.  This important project is exciting because it will expand rail and traffic capacity, while boosting safety in a significant way,” Hyde-Smith said.

“Rail is a critical piece of Mississippi’s infrastructure, and creating a more modern rail system in Mississippi will help ensure that our economy remains competitive in the years to come,” Guest said.  “The announcement of this funding is welcome news, and I applaud my colleagues and our local, state, and federal stakeholders for their efforts to advance this project.”

The project is expected to improve travel time for both commuters and KCS operations, while eliminating crashes at the crossing.  The project is considered essential, as daily trips in the area are estimated to increase 49 percent and rail traffic by almost 70 percent by 2040.