Feds Allocate $5.6 Million for Rail Capital Projects in South Dakota

A Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad freight train passes through Box Elder, South Dakota, in September 2020. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

The feds have allocated $5.6 million for rail capital projects in South Dakota, officials said.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has selected three projects in South Dakota to receive money from the Special Transportation Circumstances (STC) Grants made available by the Consolidated Appropriations Acts of 2019 and 2020.

“This more than $5.6 million federal investment will upgrade rail infrastructure and enhance rail safety in communities across South Dakota,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a news release.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation will receive nearly $1.9 million for improvements on the Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western Railroad. The state owns the track and leases it to the railroad.

The proposed rural freight rail capital project consists of several track improvements between mileposts 115.5 and 74.6 located approximately between Britton and Aberdeen, South Dakota, including replacing about 20,450 ties, removing and replacing old anchors, adding ballast, and making repairs to two railroad bridges.

The agency will also receive up to $2.2 million for the Midland Rail Improvement Project. This proposed rural freight rail capital project will replace approximately four miles of Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad mainline between milepost 530 and milepost 534, between Fort Pierre and Rapid City, passing through Midland, South Dakota.

The current rail is lightweight, obsolete and approaching 100 years old, according to a news release. Replacing the track will improve track geometry and reduce internal defects and breakage, thereby reducing derailment risk, officials said.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation will also receive $1.5 million for the Mitchell-Rapid City meet and pass siding.

This proposed rural Brule County freight rail capital project will construct a new, approximately 10,000-foot rail siding east of Highway 45 near the Gavilon grain elevator on the Dakota Southern Railway mainline east of Kimball, South Dakota. The siding should increase capacity and decrease delays, officials said.

The state owns half the property where the siding will be located. The other half of the project right-of-way will be acquired with funding outside of this grant.

“We’re pleased to support the South Dakota Department of Transportation’s work to improve the state’s rail system and look forward to seeing these changes,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said in a news release. “A healthy rail system is vital to a strong U.S. economy, and grants allow FRA to contribute to sustaining and improving this important transportation network.”

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