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Kansas state, local and railroad officials last week kicked off construction of the Great Bend Transload Facility near the Great Bend Municipal Airport, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KSDOT) announced.The shipping center will serve to move goods from truck to rail and rail to truck. The department will contribute $3 million toward the $6.8 million project, according to a KSDOT press release.A consortium made up of the city of Great Bend, Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad and Kansas Transload Services developed the proposal for the center. Sherwood Cos. of Oklahoma City will operate the facility, which is expected to open for business by year's end.The shipping center will create economic development opportunities, particularly for farmers and manufacturers, said Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King."This is a great example of a public-private partnership that will benefit not only the city but the entire region," King said.Meanwhile, KSDOT also announced it will host two public forums next week to gather opinions on development of this year's statewide rail plan update.KSDOT representatives and CDM Smith consultants will give presentations about the process to update the rail plan, then solicit feedback. The plan will detail freight-rail transportation and existing passenger-rail service, as well as capture concepts for improved and potentially expanded passenger service, KSDOT officials said in a press release.