South Dakota Freight Project Awarded $22M USDOT Grant

rail crossing

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The South Dakota Department of Transportation was recently awarded a federal grant for a corridor essential to the region’s flow of freight, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced.

A $22 million grant was provided for connectivity and safety upgrades meant to enhance industrial and agricultural development at the South Dakota Freight Capacity Expansion Project.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation indicated the grant would be used to modernize a rail network, install safety equipment and upgrade bridge structures. The project is designed to modernize the corridor and pave the way for faster train speeds through Pennington, Haakon and Stanley counties.

The $22 million is part of U.S. DOT’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE, infrastructure grants. Overall, the project’s estimated cost is $84 million. When completed, it is expected to expedite commerce along the rail line, increase safety and significantly reduce emissions, per a U.S. DOT summary.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation also noted, “The project will improve safety of rail operations, dramatically increase train operating speed on the line, and allow for handling of modern fully loaded freight cars. The project will directly support current shippers using the line to help them more effectively compete in their respective domestic and international markets.”

State officials applauded the federal grant for the freight network.

“South Dakota is focused on critical infrastructure to drive future growth and economic development, and this project will do that for all of western South Dakota,” said Gov. Kristi Noem (R). “Together with the $20 million appropriated by the state to this project, this funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation will support a project that will benefit South Dakota for generations.”

Joel Jundt, the state’s secretary of transportation, observed, “This improvement will result in reduced maintenance costs and increase the productivity of the rail line, benefiting the railroad and the variety of commodity shippers who use it.”

He went on, “The project will reduce the risk of derailments and bridge failure, increasing safety. The project is also expected to result in reductions in emissions due to more efficient operation and the possibility of attracting more freight to travel by rail, improving environmental sustainability.”

This month, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced recipients of the nearly $1 billion in RAISE grants. In addition to South Dakota, the grants backed projects in 47 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam.

“We’re proud to support these great projects that will improve infrastructure, strengthen supply chains, make us safer, advance equity and combat climate change,” said Buttigieg. “As in past years, we received far more applications than we could fund: this cycle saw about a 10-to-1 ratio of requests to available dollars. But going forward, with the passage of President [Joe] Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, we will be able to support far more infrastructure projects to support jobs and everyday life in communities across the country.”

Other RAISE recipients included Seattle. The city was awarded $20 million to assist with the reconstruction of a 1.1-mile stretch of the East Marginal Way roadway to reduce travel time for motorists. The grant also would upgrade the corridor to meet heavy-haul standards.

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