- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A partnership between the state and private groups will allow for a $56 million investment in four rail projects across South Dakota.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Tuesday announced that the projects include the reconstruction of more than 40 miles of rail line between Chamberlain and Presho, construction of railroad sidings in Aurora and Huron, and upgrades to the Sioux Valley Line in southeast South Dakota and the Britton Line in the northeast part of the state.

Daugaard said the investments will spur economic development in the state.

“The state has long recognized the importance of rail transportation as part of an integrated component of South Dakota’s intermodal transportation plan,” Daugaard said. “The investments we make in rail today will have a positive impact for decades to come.”

A breakdown of the projects:

- $29.9 million will be used in the reconstruction of the rail line from Mitchell to Rapid City. The project between Chamberlain and Presho will upgrade 42.6 miles of rail line to handle modern rail traffic.

- $7.5 million will be spent in constructing two new railroad sidings along the old DM&E; line. The project includes a 10,000-foot siding in the Huron area and a 7,500-foot siding near Aurora.

- $7.3 million will be invested in improvements of the Sioux Valley Line in southeast South Dakota. The project includes upgrades to nine bridges on the line, which will allow the line to handle 286,000-pound rail cars. A section of track that is currently in an area subject to landslides will be moved also as part of the project.

- $11.5 million will go toward the improvement of the Britton Line in northeast South Dakota. The funds will pay for the construction of the south leg of a triangular junction at Jarrett Junction and replacing 29 miles of light rail with heavy rail to enable the railroad to handle heavy modern traffic.

Daugaard says the upgrades will also lead to the construction of a new grain-handling facility in Britton and a grain shuttle loading facility in Kennebec. Each facility’s price tag was estimated at $40 million.

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