- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The city of Sioux Falls is preparing for the redevelopment of 10 acres of rail yard property after years of negotiations and a $27 million land deal with BNSF Railway.

The project will result in fewer lines running through downtown, but officials have said it will bring more traffic to the remaining lines, the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/293D3FC ) reported.

“Instead of these long unit trains coming into town, you’ll see more frequent but shorter trains that are being delivered and picked up from customers,” said Josh Peterson, project manager for the city. “We’re not impacting the volume at all, just the size and frequency of the trains.”

The downtown rail yard has been used for years to store and interchange cars for BNSF and Ellis and Eastern Railroad. Those lines will move from that rail yard to another area where new siding tracks are being built this summer.

BNSF plans to initially focus its attention on a downtown connection track that needs to be relocated and then prep the defunct rail yard for redevelopment with site cleanup, track removal and the removal of an existing freight building.

The city envisions a development with retail, restaurants and residential offerings in the rail yard’s place. The presence of train traffic might end up dictating what kind of projects wind up there, but officials aren’t concerned that it will hinder the redevelopment from reaching its potential.

“There certainly is concern for potential residents to live right next to a rail line, but it just kind of becomes background noise in a way,” said Joe Batcheller, executive director of Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. “It might not sound very reassuring. It will have an impact to a degree, but after a while it all becomes relative.”

The city can consider establishing quiet zones, which allow trains to refrain from blowing their horns while crossing an intersection, to limit train noise downtown and beyond.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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