PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Railroad Board got a look Wednesday at a draft version of an investment guide that it plans to start using for analyzing funding decisions.

The $548,569.67 contract between HDR Engineering of Omaha, Nebraska, and the state Department of Transportation calls for a new rail plan and an investment guide.

HDR project manager Catherine Dobbs described the investment guide as an internal-facing document for state government’s use that complements the outward-facing state rail plan — “Sort of brother-sister,” she said — and replaces the current informal decision-making process on investments.

The guide includes standardized tools such as a project intake form and an evaluation matrix.

HDR’s David Montoya said those are based on goals set in the opening pages of the 2014 state rail plan’s executive summary. He said an additional consideration will be financial responsibility at the state level, so that limited funds can be made available at times to more projects.

Among those commenting from the audience Wednesday were Dan Kippley from the Ellis & Eastern Railroad, Bruce Lindholm who previously oversaw SDDOT’s railroad office, and Jerry Vest representing the Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad.

Board member Jack Nelson of Volga said opportunities and Mother Nature have driven funding decisions in the past. “It’s definitely worth having this,” he said.

Board member Jon Kirby of Sioux Falls spoke in favor, too. “I really like where this plan is heading. It’s a nice update,” he said.

Four of the board’s seven members took part in Wednesday’s meeting. Dobbs, the project manager, said she could have a final version ready for a board decision in July. Chairman Jerry Cope of Rapid City suggested the possibility that the full board could further discuss the draft in July and decide in August.