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South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard yesterday announced $56 million in public and private dollars have been committed to fund four rail projects across the state.The projects in part will support the opening of a new $40 million grain handling facility in Britton and a $40 million grain shuttle loading facility in Kennebec, Daugaard said in a press release."The state has long recognized the importance of rail transportation as part of an integrated component of South Dakota’s intermodal transportation plan," he said. "The investments we make in rail today will have a positive impact for decades to come."The projects include the reconstruction of the state-owned Mitchell-to-Rapid City rail line. The $29.9 million project calls for upgrading 42.6 miles of track between Chamberlain and Presho to restore rail service. The upgrades will accommodate a grain shuttle loading facility to be built in Kennebec by grain and agronomy cooperative Wheat Growers.The rail project is being funded by a $12.7 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant; $7.2 million appropriated by the state; $7 million in grants and loans from the Railroad Trust Fund; $1 million from Rails to the Future; $1 million from Dakota Southern Railroad; and a $1 million grant from the state's "Future Funds" program.Another project announced by Daugaard involves an agreement between the state and Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad (RCP&E) to construct two new sidings along the an old Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad line. The $7.5 million project calls for constructing a 10,000-foot siding in the Huron area and a 7,500-foot siding near Aurora. RCP&E has committed $3.75 million for the work and the state will match that amount with a Future Funds grant.The third project cited by the governor calls for South Dakota to partner with the Dakota & Iowa Railroad to upgrade the Sioux Valley Line. The $7.3 million project will include upgrading nine bridges to enable the line to accommodate 286,000-pound rail cars. In addition, a section of track that's subject to landslides will be moved.The fourth project involves an upgrade of the Britton Line in northeast South Dakota. The $11.5 million project calls for building the south leg of a wye track at Jarrett Junction and replacing 29 miles of light rail with heavy rail to accommodate heavier rail traffic. The work will be funded by $5.25 million from the Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western Railroad, $5.25 million in loans from the state's Rail Board and $1 million from the Future Funds program.The line upgrade will accommodate the new Britton Grain Terminal, said Daugaard."This new grain elevator in Britton will allow head-to-head competition between two Class I railroads for the first time," he said.Daugaard also announced that $4 million in Future Funds grants will be available to match other South Dakota rail investments made by private entities. Interested parties should submit proposals to the South Dakota Department of Transportation, the governor said.