DODGE CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – A new Kansas Department of Transportation Short Line Rail Fund program will be bringing much-needed upgrades to rail systems across the state.
The project is part of Governor Kelly’s IKE Program and will fund five million dollars annually for three years toward improving railway grain transportation.
There are a total of 13 renovations taking place on three short-line railway systems across the state aiming to improve and build nearly 15 miles of track.
Four of the projects will be focused on improvements to short-line rails, and the other nine projects will bring repairs to grain elevators.
“It will really benefit rural Kansas and a lot of small communities, some of which, don’t have rail service to their grain elevators,” said Ron Seeber, president and CEO Kansas Grain and Feed Association.
Railways are critical in the transportation of grain. The USDA reported rail cars account for a quarter of all grain shipments.
“Rail is one of the most cost-effective ways to get grain from the farmer to the end-user,” said Seeber.
The project will repair and increase the capacity of bridges, improve elevator siding, lay down additional tracks, and allow more grain cars to be filled at once.
For farmers, this could mean less trucking and quicker payments.
“For farmers, instead of having to drive their truck all the way to an elevator a county away, if this is centrally located, they can just bring it to the rail stop,” said Seeber.
For towns, the project creates an economic lifeline.
The railways will now be able to put up to 2,400 grain cars on the tracks each year, taking an estimated 10,000 semis, or motor-carrier trucks, off the highways.
This is expected to create less wear on state roads while helping provide a small-amount of relief for the transportation industry and its current shortage of licensed commercial drivers.
“It will allow for a lot more railcars to be serviced in rural Kansas,” said Seeber.
The Cimarron Valley Railway will be the largest of the 13 projects. The line of tracks will see rail replacement and bridge repairs totaling nearing $1.1 million in grant money alone.
The total investment of all the renovations will reach nearly $7 million dollars. It will be funded 70% by the state and 30% by the applicants.