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Ellis & Eastern Co. will receive a nearly $14.5 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help fund the rehabilitation of 7.5 miles of track between Brandon, Minnesota, and Valley Springs, South Dakota.The nearly $34 million project calls for rebuilding 6 miles of track between Rushmore and Adrian, Minnesota, constructing a siding in Valley Springs, and upgrading 11 bridges and a number of grade crossings.Owned by Concrete Materials Co., Ellis & Eastern plans to replace 80-pound rail with 115-pound rail so it can handle cars that move ethanol beginning in 2023. Overall, the work will improve traffic flow from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Worthington, Minnesota, and enable the short line to offer southeast South Dakota shippers access to BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Railroad.Ellis & Eastern expects the work to take several years to complete.“This CRISI grant will improve the safety and quality of the Ellis & Eastern and will be a boon to southern Minnesota’s economy,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) in a press release. “These rail infrastructure improvements will allow for faster, safer and more cost-effective transportation of products like ethanol, and make our rural communities in Rock and Nobles counties more prosperous.”