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BNSF customers' 2016 development projects worth $3.5 billion

One major project includes United Sugars' storage dome, which can hold 60,000 metric tons of sugar.
Photo – American Crystal Sugar Co.

Customers served by BNSF Railway Co. invested nearly $3.5 billion in economic development projects in 2016, the Class I announced yesterday.

Last year marked the sixth consecutive year that BNSF customers and local economic development organizations invested more than $1 billion in a calendar year for new or expanded facilities, BNSF officials said in a press release.

The 2016 projects reflected several large investments, including the completion of Big River Steel's new $1.3 billion "Flex Mill" steel mill in Osceola, Ark. The mill completed its first full month of production in January.

"The role of BNSF's economic development team is to help facilitate and expedite the process of establishing rail service and a transportation infrastructure that is attractive to a variety of industries, which then helps drive investments and employment opportunities across the communities we serve," said Colby Tanner, BNSF's assistant vice president, economic development.

BNSF helped generate new or expanded developments in 115 communities along its rail network in 2016. The developments supported commodities including agriculture, chemicals, consumer products, ethanol, fertilizer, industrial products and petroleum.

Among the projects that BNSF assisted included Big River Steel's Flex Mill, the largest economic development project in Arkansas history, BNSF officials said. The mill provides steelmakers the flexibility to produce a wide spectrum of steel products, such as advanced automotive steels and electrical steels.

Another completed project was a new bulk sugar storage and transfer facility built by United Sugars Corp. in Montgomery, Ill., which opened in November 2016. The facility allows United Sugars to store its product more efficiently and closer to its customer base in the Chicago market. The 20-acre complex includes a 26,000-square-foot bulk storage dome that stands 134 feet high and 183 feet wide and has the capacity to store 60,000 metric tons of sugar.

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