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Governor's Column: Investing In Rail

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014                                                               

CONTACT: Tony Venhuizen or Kelsey Pritchard at 605-773-3212


EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS:  Please consider the following column from Gov. Dennis Daugaard. For an audio recording of the Governor’s weekly column, visit http://news.sd.gov/player.aspx.



Investing In Rail


A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:


South Dakota has long recognized rail as a significant component of our state’s transportation system. South Dakota exports most of the grain we produce, and our farmers, ranchers and processing facilities rely almost entirely on railroads to move agricultural products out of state.


It’s no secret that the state’s railroads have struggled to keep up with the volume of commodities our farmers need to move to market. The problem is a result of many factors: cold weather, back-to-back record harvests, the sale of the former DM&E line, increased shipping of oil by rail, and others.


Faced with significant shipping challenges, South Dakotans are stepping up. The Dakota & Iowa, Dakota Missouri Valley & Western, RCP&E, and Dakota Southern railroads have committed a total of $10.3 million for improvements on South Dakota rail lines. Farmers and other private citizens have donated $1 million of their own money for rail projects. South Dakota also recently received a federal grant of $12.7 million for rail improvements. 


All these contributions, combined with $23.2 million in state loans and grants, have allowed us to improve our rail infrastructure across the state. These upgrades have resulted in at least $80 million in additional private investments in grain handling facilities.


Every one of these projects is a partnership between state government and private investors, and we need more projects like this to improve our state’s rail infrastructure. 


On Dec. 16 I announced that I have set aside $4 million of Future Funds to incent additional rail investments by private entities. Since then, we have already been contacted by several interested parties. Still, we are interested in finding additional partners to invest in South Dakota rail, so send us your ideas. Those interested in applying can submit proposals to the state Department of Transportation at 700 E. Broadway Ave. in Pierre.


Thanks to all our partners working to improve rail in South Dakota. The investments we make today will have a positive impact for decades to come and give our farmers better access to worldwide markets.