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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

Upgrades to BNSF mainline in North Dakota might start in spring


U.S. Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), U.S. Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple recently announced plans to advance upgrades to a BNSF Railway Co.-owned line near Devils Lake, N.D., that’s also used by Amtrak. Earlier this year, rising floodwaters in the Devils Lake basin damaged rail lines and bridges near Churchs Ferry, prompting Amtrak to suspend service on its Empire Builder line.

The $99.9 million project calls for raising a 15.4-mile section of BNSF’s mainline between Devils Lake and Churchs Ferry, and raising two bridges to prevent future floods in the basin from impeding rail operations. If the project isn’t completed, Amtrak would no longer operate Empire Builder trains on the Devils Lake route.

The project recently was chosen by the U.S. Department of Transportation to receive a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery III, or TIGER III grant. BNSF plans to work with Amtrak to provide additional funding for the project, while Dalrymple plans to include funding in the state’s next budget and rely on other funding sources to raise the $10 million needed to complete the work.

Construction could start in spring with the funding that’s already secured, according to BNSF.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/29/2011