Rebuild of South Dakota rail line on track

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A Dakota Southern excursion crosses the Missouri River west of Chamberlain in July 1998.
Steve Glischinski
CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. – Rebuilding of 42 miles of the former Milwaukee Road Rapid City line between Chamberlain and Presho,, including the bridge over the Missouri River at Chamberlain, is about 50 percent complete, the Mitchell to Rapid City Regional Railroad Authority says. The line has not been used since 2007.

The track is being rebuilt by Dakota Southern Railway to serve a new Wheat Growers agronomy services and shuttle loader facility complex at Kennebec, along a segment of the state-owned line. In Fall 2014 Dakota Southern received a $12.7 million Federal Tiger grant to help fund the $29.9 million rebuild. South Dakota Wheat Growers started construction on its $40 million facility in 2014.

Bruce Lindholm, rail program manager with the South Dakota Department of Transportation Office of Air, Rail and Transit, says the projected completion date for the project is September 2016.

The rehab project includes replacing about 1,300 ties per mile, replacing rail, repairing bridges and culverts, and leveling the track, Lindholm tells Prairie Business.

About 30 of the small bridges along the line between Chamberlain and Reliance have had their ties, strings and pile caps changed making them structurally sound. Bridges west of Reliance along the line are to be completed by the spring.

The ties, walkway posts and planks, and inspection planks were all replaced on the massive Missouri River Bridge just west of Chamberlain. The bridge still needs some “fine tuning” Lindholm says, mostly bracketing work, and he expects it to be done soon.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the Missouri River Bridge in 1953 when the construction of the Fort Randall Dam would cause an older bridge to be flooded out. The bridge features two large through truss sections, and a long string of deck truss sections. It was the longest bridge on the Milwaukee Road system at a length of seven-eighths of a mile.

To date, about 60 culverts have been cleaned and repaired. Lindholm says the biggest aspect of the project that remains to be done are the rest of the bridges from Reliance to Presho. In the spring, workers plan to start in Chamberlain, going west to Reliance, replacing ties.

The state owns more tracks west of Presho to Kadoka. Lindholm says there is now a possibility the project could be extended farther west. “We’ve heard people are interested in having it expanded, and we’re actively searching for a way to do it, but I can’t say for sure that we are going to do it,” Lindholm says.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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