BRANDON, SD -
Despite arguments from hundreds of people, Sioux Falls officials announced this week that the city plans to move forward with a relocation plan of the downtown railroad switchyard. People in Brandon believe moving the yard next to their town would hurt economic activity.
Brandon city leaders say moving the rail yard near them would mean about 28 trains a day crossing Rice Street just west of town. It would bring another 400 standing rail cars to the yard per day. They believe that's the wrong kind of activity to lure economic growth to an area that has been expanding.
"It's a huge advantage for Sioux Falls. But it's a huge disadvantage for us," Brandon Mayor Larry Beesley said.
A site just west of town is just one proposed plan to put the rail switchyard when it moves from its Downtown Sioux Falls location. Brandon residents such as Melissa Dreesman remain unimpressed.
"I used to work Downtown and just the way the area gets, the loudness, the traffic, things like that," Dreesman said.
And people in Brandon are equally unhappy with news from Sioux Falls city leaders that the plan to move the yard is moving forward.
"I don't think the fight for us is over by any stretch of the imagination," Beesley said.
Beesley is encouraged by Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether's comments this week that the Brandon site is not Huether's first choice. But Beesley says assertions that train tracks would drive business couldn't be further from the truth.
"It stops our growth there. It stops any kind of growth, whether it be residential or light industrial, or even commercial," said Beesley.
And all that activity is not the action residents hope for.
"There's already enough traffic with day care and things like that over there. It's really not something you want to throw something else into," said Dreesman.
Hundreds of people from the city spoke out this week against the project. Brandon city leaders say they will continue to work with Sioux Falls, though no final sites have been named.
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