Thursday, April 19, 2018

South Dakota threatening to sink RCPE railroad

Yep, nothing ever happens in South Dakota without federal money.

The State of South Dakota is sending a signal to Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad that Dakota Southern is its preferred rail system.
A federal program has $978,200 available for South Dakota. The application deadline is June 21, said Joel Jundt, state Department of Transportation deputy secretary. The meeting was the first time Jack Parliament said he heard of the $978,200. Parliament is president and general manager for the Dakota and Iowa Railroad that operates on a state-owned line in southeastern South Dakota. Jundt re-emphasized to Parliament and others they should focus on $8.2 million of rail grants available to South Dakota from another federal program.
Read the rest here.
Jerry Vest with Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad, says some rural communities could be in trouble if Congress doesn’t come through. “The real problem is we can’t improve the railroads fast enough to serve our customers the best we can,” said Vest. They are turning to their Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) to help them out. The tax credit being in the hands of a preoccupied Congress means it could get lost in the shuffle.
Read the rest here.

The railroad is apparently fed up trying to move product at ten miles an hour between Wall and Fort Pierre where Cretaceous shale buckles track bed every year. Last year crews welding and grinding on RCPE track caused the 291 acre Dry Creek Fire near Fairburn.

Recall TEApublican former governor Mike Rounds squandered Amtrak money on an airplane for his personal use. In 1997 the red moocher state received $23 million from taxpayers for going without Amtrak service.

Pierre continues to suffer Essential Air Service woes and low boarding numbers even while the legislature is in session.

Building two east-west rail systems exclusively for freight in South Dakota is lunacy especially over Pierre Shale geology. That same geology forces engineers to rebuild I-90 every year and also makes construction of the Keystone XL pipeline untenable.

This blog spoke to a RCPE executive in 2015. She said that the line between Crawford and Dakota Junction, Nebraska connecting to Rapid City is active and hauling bentonite south to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and to Union Pacific.

She said that although there is virtually no westbound shipping over the line between Wolsey and Rapid City, South Dakota or Colony, Wyoming the State of South Dakota subsidizes enough siding development, money that the state receives from the federal government through the transportation bill, that shipments of one-way freight allow the railroad to cash flow. The state owns the right of way.

She also said that at this time RCPE has no intention to secure leases for new rail bed from Colony to the Powder River Basin coal fields and that the railroad won't transport coal across South Dakota.

When asked she could not say whether the company's parent, Genesee & Wyoming is talking to that state or its residents about leasing the relatively short distance from Colony to its rights on the BNSF Railway main line near Gillette.

RCPE employees voted to join the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) in 2014.

Water crossings where ice floes bash moorings and flooding causes scouring of fill from river bottoms are particularly vulnerable to failures.

Yes, overcoming the task of building a bridge at Chamberlain across (under?) the Missouri River and over the Pierre Shale should lead to passenger service being built on the abandoned Milwaukee bed between Sioux Falls and Rapid City including access for rural communities then connect with a future line built to Colorado's rail line.

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