By Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2020

AZTEC, N.M. (AP) - Efforts to expand railroad service in northwestern New Mexico have been bolstered by a $2 million federal grant.

San Juan County was among hundreds of entities that applied for funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The county will receive $2 million to study the economic viability of a rail spur, and the design and construction.

The grant also will cover costs associated with meetings among local communities, governmental entities and potential business partners, the county said.

The Navajo Nation and the county agreed earlier this year to pursue a freight railroad to serve the Four Corners region. It’s been the topic of several studies over the past decades.

Efforts have intensified recently because of anticipated economic losses from coal-fired power plants.

“Rail has long been a crucial missing piece of our logistics resources,” Warren Unsicker, the city of Farmington’s economic development director, said in a statement. “This stands to not only create countless new jobs but attract new businesses that would not have otherwise considered our area.”

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