ND draft rail plan anticipates increases in freight
BISMARCK-The North Dakota Department of Transportation is planning for more growth in rail freight than the national rate."Our draft rail plan is a roadmap for future planning and investment," said Rebecca Geyer, head of the Planning and Rail Sec...
BISMARCK-The North Dakota Department of Transportation is planning for more growth in rail freight than the national rate.
"Our draft rail plan is a roadmap for future planning and investment," said Rebecca Geyer, head of the Planning and Rail Section of the NDDOT.
The department is seeking comments from the public and the industry on a plan that outlines safety and infrastructure planning. The draft document runs through 2040, although Geyer said plans are usually updated every five to seven years.
The plan focuses on safety at railroad crossings, safe transportation of hazardous materials, reliability and expansion to meet economic development opportunities.
Geyer said future infrastructure upgrades could be project driven such as new processing plants or expansions to grain elevators.
NDDOT has made loans of more than $318 million for 68 projects in North Dakota through the Rail Investment Program since 2011. BNSF has invested $1.1 billion and Canadian Pacific Railway an additional $134 million in infrastructure in the same period.
Geyer said the investments have solved some bottlenecks that existed previously.
"The key in North Dakota was an issue with capacity a couple of years ago," she said. "That bottleneck has been eliminated with a build up of capacity and (petroleum) pipelines have taken some load off the railroads."
The plan also addresses passenger rail service, although Geyer said the plan does not identify any expansions to rail service.
Parts of North Dakota are served by the Empire Builder which is operated by Amtrak through Fargo, Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Minot and Williston.
"The plan talks about the Empire Builder serving 54 percent of North Dakota within 25 miles of an Amtrak station," Geyer said. "It gives people the opportunity to get on a train if they want to."
Forum News Service has reported that the budget plan presented by President Donald Trump eliminates funding for long distance train service such as the Empire Builder.
The draft plan is available at bit.ly/2sB8H7F. The page also includes a space for comments.