S.D. board puts off rails-to-trail decision

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A citizens group that wants to convert a state-owned rail line that’s no longer used to a hiking and biking trail in southeastern South Dakota ran into more questions from a government panel Wednesday.

South Dakota Railroad Board members chose to delay a decision on the future of the route between Napa and Platte.

State Transportation Secretary Joel Jundt recommended they wait.

Backers of the plan acknowledged they don’t have a succession plan for keeping the trail maintained. They said that could be part of a feasibility study.

A lawyer for the board asked whether it was premature to commit to a five-mile demonstration that the supporters now propose before seeing the outcome of the study.

The group wants the board’s backing for a federal grant application.

Secretary Jundt said the board should first see a master plan. He suggested the board look over the documents and maybe make a decision in December.

“There’s definitely more discussions that need to take place,” he said.

The state Department of Transportation would bring back more information, according to Jundt.

Board member Jon Kirby of Sioux Falls said that would help.

“I don’t really feel that I have enough information to really make a decision yet,” Kirby said. “So yeah, another month, at least, more data. I would like to hear back from more of the people that this is really going to impact, whether it’s positive or negative.”

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