S.D. panel agrees to seek $22 million from Federal Railroad Administration for RCP&E

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Railroad Cross

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Railroad Board will ask the federal government to help pay for rebuilding the Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern route between Fort Pierre and Rapid City.

The board decided Wednesday to apply for a $22 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration.

The company plans a $84 million project, including replacing 89 miles of century-old rail and upgrading trestles to handle heavier, faster trains.

The South Dakota Legislature appropriated $20 million for the work. Governor Kristi Noem signed the legislation into law. The company gets the state funds if the federal grant is awarded. The state funds remain available until June 30, 2029.

Chicago & North Western originally owned the route. Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern purchased it in 1986. Genesee & Wyoming bought it in 2014 from Canadian Pacific and changed the name to Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern.

The company intends to put $42 million into the project.

“In essence the application will be to do the entire work,” South Dakota Transportation Secretary Joel Jundt told the state board Wednesday.

The board voted without discussion. Jerry Vest, the company’s senior vice president of government and industry affairs, thanked the members afterward.

“This, we feel, is going to be transformative,” Vest said. He added, “We’re going to give the application our best shot.”

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