BRANDON, SD -
More than 200 people showed up to talk about the possibility of a railroad switchyard, 12 rail lines and five at-grade crossings at one of the sites being looked at in the Brandon area.
Officials leading the project spent time outlining the benefits. Moving it out of Downtown Sioux Falls would create $300 million in development, alleviate traffic delays on 6th and 8th Streets and eliminate some real safety concerns in Sioux Falls
"What about Brandon? We're concerned about Brandon's property values," former Brandon City Council Member Brett Karber asked the audience. Almost the entire group of people raised their hands. Karber is concerned a switchyard will lower property values for houses near the potential sites.
Those concerns made it pretty easy to ask some tough questions.
"Why are you moving it out of downtown?" Brandon resident Kelly Kramer asked. Project Consultant Mike Gorman with Alfred Benesch & Co. pointed out moving the switchyard would make space for economic development.
"So, these options won't impact Brandon's economic development? Won't impact safety with two trains an hour crossing Rice and Timberline? Don't you think it impacts it?" Kramer asked. Gorman responded that it could impact all of those.
Project leaders said after reviewing 12 possible sites, the possible three locations in the Brandon area offer the most feasible places for the switchyard relocation. Some people at the meeting asked if project leaders looked at what is planned for the property for development.
"What happens if it's not for sale?" Dan Risty asked.
"Well, then there is such a thing called eminent domain," Gorman said, followed by an eruption of booing from the crowd.
Beyond voicing concerns about environmental hazards and safety issues for a nearby day care center, around half of the people said they work in Sioux Falls. A switchyard could negatively impact their commutes.
At the end of the meeting, the people in Brandon did all agree on one option for the switchyard by applauding for a no build option.
"My suggestion is the government is broke right now! Let's save the money, return it to the feds and at a later time re-evaluate this situation! Thank you!" Erik Forman said.
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