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The Kansas Department of Transportation this week (KDOT) announced nine rail improvement projects will receive a combined $11.5 million in State Rail Service Improvement Fund grants.
The program is intended to help improve rail access for businesses and preserve the condition of the state's rail network. This year, the total cost of the nine projects is $21.8 million. Construction is slated to begin in the third quarter, KDOT officials said in a press release.
"We received a great amount of interest in the program this year," said John Maddox, manager of KDOT's freight and Rail Unit. "This gave KDOT the opportunity to select projects that will make a significant impact in the shipping, agriculture and railroad industries."
KDOT received 16 applications from short lines and shippers totaling more than $38.9 million in project costs.
Those receiving grants are:• Kyle Railroad Co., $2.3 million for a rail relay;• Occidental Chemicals, $2.3 million for a yard expansion;• Garden City Western Railroad, $2.1 million for major rehabilitation work;• Garden City Co-op Inc., $1.3 million for loop track construction;• Cimarron Valley Railroad, $971,217 for rail upgrades to handle heavier cars;• South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad, $951,922 for bridge upgrades;• Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad, $934,422 for passing track;• V&S Medicine Lodge, $532,334 for a major rehabilitation; and• Cargill Inc., $180,000 for a yard expansion in Wichita.
In addition to the rail improvement projects, four major rehabilitation and rail replacing projects that receive a combined $11.2 million in state grant funds are under construction and expected to be completed in second-quarter 2021. Those projects, worth a combined $18.5 million, received funding under KDOT's 286,000-poundRail Upgrade Initiative, department officials said.
"The short line network in Kansas makes up 40 percent of the rail infrastructure across the state," Maddox said. "Short lines serve a vital role in keeping the Kansas agricultural sector and shippers connected to the Class I rail network. This connection keeps Kansas shippers connected to regional, national and international markets for Kansas products."
KDOT is investing $22.7 million through both grant programs.