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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

Seventy-six organizations form coalition to promote DM&E's PRB project


During the past few years, the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp. (DM&E) has gained a number of supporters for its $2.5 billion Powder River Basin (PRB) project. Now, 76 of those supporters have banded together to form a coalition that aims to promote the project to various government officials and the public.

The Growth Opportunities Through Rail Access Coalition (GOTRAC) includes shippers, community organizations, economic development agencies, agricultural and energy groups. Coalition members believe the project will create thousands of high-paying jobs; drive up corn, wheat, bean and other grain prices about 20 cents per bushel; reduce electricity bills; improve market access and competition for shippers; add capacity to the national rail system; and form the first Class I in more than 100 years.

“Utilities around the country have cited the lack of railroad competition and capacity as the single-biggest reason for recent electric bill increases,” said Reid Jensen, South Dakota GOTRAC chairman and South Dakota Corn Growers Association president, in a prepared statement. “This project will have a huge impact on both of those problems, and reduce our home electricity bills.”

The DM&E plans to build a 262.3-mile line through western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming, and upgrade 600 miles of other lines in South Dakota and Minnesota to access the PRB. The railroad has received final Surface Transportation Board approval for the project and is awaiting the Federal Railroad Administration’s decision on a $2.5 billion Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program loan that would fund the project and other trackwork.