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STB's environmental arm seeks public comments on historic bridge portion of DM&E's PRB plan

Later this month, the Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA) will hold five public meetings in South Dakota and Minnesota to discuss how the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad (DM&E) plans to renovate historic bridges and culverts as part of its proposed Powder River Basin expansion project.

During the meetings to be held in Wall, Pierre and Huron, S.D., and Tracy and Winona, Minn., STB and SEA staff members will answer questions and listen to public comments on the treatment of structures that need to be replaced or retrofitted. The DM&E has developed bridge and culvert plans in association with both states’ historic preservation offices.

The SEA will incorporate public comments into an environmental mitigation “treatment plan” required by the STB when the board granted the project final approval in February 2006.

Meanwhile, the DM&E continues to solicit private financing for the $6 billion project, which calls for building a 262.3-mile line through western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming, and upgrading 600 track miles in South Dakota and Minnesota to access the Powder River Basin. In February, the Federal Railroad Administration denied the railroad’s application for a $2.3 billion Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan that would have helped finance construction.

DM&E officials are upbeat about the amount of private capital available — an amount that’s substantially increased the past three years, according to the railroad — and the prospects of starting construction on the project sometime next year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/6/2007