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SDDOT Receives Federal RAISE Grant for Freight Capacity Expansion
South Dakota Ag Connection - 11/24/2021

The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) was awarded a Rebuilding America Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation. The RAISE Grant is designated for the Freight Capacity Expansion Project with Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad (RCP&E) through Pennington, Haakon, and Stanley counties. SDDOT applied for the federal RAISE grant in July to upgrade main line rail between Fort Pierre and Rapid City.

State and federal grants help the railroad increase its capacity and upgrade the line for the betterment of South Dakota. Recognizing the importance to the public and the economy of finishing this effort in a prompt fashion, a South Dakota Senate Bill (SB 93) was introduced and passed the legislature by overwhelming margins calling for $20 million in state funds to be available to RCP&E to use as matching funds for a federal grant to upgrade the line. Governor Noem signed the bill into law on March 22, 2021.

"South Dakota is focused on critical infrastructure to drive future growth and economic development, and this project will do that for all of western South Dakota," said Governor Kristi Noem. "Together with the $20 million appropriated by the state to this project, this funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation will support a project that will benefit South Dakota for generations."

Since its start-up on June 1, 2014, RCP&E has been aggressively investing in its infrastructure to better serve South Dakota and Wyoming. The railroad company has spent over $52 million in routine maintenance work, and over $68 million in track and bridge capital improvements. These investments provide safe, efficient, and competitive freight services for current and future RCP&E customers in South Dakota.

"The project directly restores a critical transportation asset to conditions that allow for industry standard fully loaded 286,000 pound rail cars at speeds up to 25 miles-per-hour," states Joel Jundt, Secretary of Transportation. "This improvement will result in reduced maintenance costs and increase the productivity of the rail line, benefiting the railroad and the variety of commodity shippers who use it. The project will reduce the risk of derailments and bridge failure, increasing safety. The project is also expected to result in reductions in emissions due to more efficient operation and the possibility of attracting more freight to travel by rail, improving environmental sustainability."

This monumental RCP&E Freight Capacity Expansion Project replaces approximately 87.7 miles of aging rail with new 136 pound continuous welded rail, upgrades 121 bridge structures, installs 80,000 main line cross ties, replaces 11 main line turnouts, upgrades 122 grade crossings, and installs safety improvements on the line. The estimated $84 million total project cost will include $42 million provided by RCP&E, $20 million from the state of South Dakota, and $22 million provided through the RAISE Grant. The project will improve safety of rail operations, dramatically increase train operating speed on the line, and allow for handling of modern fully loaded freight cars. The project will directly support current shippers using the line to help them more effectively compete in their respective domestic and international markets. The upgrades will also enhance new industrial and agricultural development potential.

For more information about the RAISE Grant or the RCP&E Freight Capacity Expansion Project, please contact Jack Dokken, Air, Rail & Transit Program Manager at 605-773-3574.

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