The DeQueen & Eastern Railroad Machine Shop in De Queen. Wikimedia / Michael Barera

The U.S. Department of Transportation provided $11.8 million to make infrastructure and safety-related improvements on freight rail lines operating in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, the agency announced Monday.

The money comes from the federal infrastructure bill signed into law by President Biden in 2021, which is also helping pay for upgrades to Arkansas roads and highways, the state electric grid and its broadband internet infrastructure, among other projects.


The grant will pay for “multiple track improvements, bridge rehabilitations, grade crossings modifications, and related infrastructure upgrades” to a unified rail system comprised of the DeQueen and Eastern Railroad (DQE) and the Texas, Oklahoma, and Eastern Railroad. The system runs from Valliant, Okla. to Perkins, Ark., in Howard County, according to a map from a freight operator.

The project is one of 70 nationwide paid for by the infrastructure bill, according to a press release from the Federal Railroad Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Here’s the full release:


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced today that it has invested $11.8 million in Arkansas from President Biden’s Infrastructure Law into the Resilient Infrastructure & Safety Enhancement Project. Nationally, President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invested more than $1.4 billion into 70 rail improvement projects in 35 states and Washington, D.C. This is the largest amount ever awarded for rail safety and rail supply chain upgrades through the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program.
As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, federal investments are tackling long-standing rail needs by supporting communities nationwide to help get people and goods where they need to be safely, quickly, and conveniently. Projects selected through the CRISI program, which is four times larger since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, support community safety through track improvements, bridge rehabilitations, fewer highway-rail grade crossings, upgrades on routes carrying hazardous materials, and more. Selected projects also improve connectivity, reduce shipping costs, increase resiliency to extreme weather, reduce emissions, and support workforce development.
“Under President Biden’s leadership, we are making historic investments in rail, which means fewer accidents and delays, faster travel times, and lower shipping costs for the American people,” said USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These projects will make American rail safer, more reliable, and more resilient, delivering tangible benefits to dozens of communities where railroads are located, and strengthening supply chains for the entire country.”
“For years, the CRISI Program has helped to maintain and modernize America’s freight rail network, and it’s the only federal grant program prioritizing smaller, short line railroads vital to our nation’s economy and regional supply chains. With unprecedented levels of funding through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, FRA is advancing even more projects and laying the groundwork for further transformation,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose. “The selected projects will tackle issues facing communities and invest in a 21st century rail network yielding greater benefits – faster and more reliable deliveries of goods, safer communities, cleaner transportation, and more jobs and workforce development opportunities.”

In Arkansas, selected projects include:

Resilient Infrastructure & Safety Enhancement Project (Up to $ 11,830,000) DeQueen and Eastern Railroad, LLC

The project involves final design and construction for multiple track improvements, bridge rehabilitations, grade crossings modifications, and related infrastructure upgrades to the DeQueen and Eastern Railroad (DQE) and the Texas, Oklahoma, and Eastern Railroad. These rail lines function as a unified system in certain parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas, and improving them will enhance operational efficiency, increase carrying capacity to 286,000 pounds, and bolster the railroad’s resilience to severe weather events and potential flooding. DQE will provide a 30 percent non-Federal match. Additionally, this project qualifies for the statutory set-aside for projects in Rural Areas.