U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx came to South Dakota to see firsthand the need for the rehabilitation and restoration of 42 miles of rail line from Chamberlain to Presho. That project is moving forward thanks to a $12.6 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to go with state government funding and private contributions for a total of $28 million for the project.
Wheat Growers has made a commitment to build a first-class grain handling and agronomy center in Kennebec, along the rehabilitated heavy-rail line.
Secretary Foxx spoke to a gathering of sponsors and supporters of the project in Chamberlain and noted how earlier generations had invested in the original rail infrastructure many decades ago.
“They started out with the expectation they were going to create a better future for their kids and grandkids. And it happens when we do this. In this latest round of TIGER, we awarded $12.6 million so you can make the improvements you need to reawaken this portion of your track to get people working and to improve the economy right here.”
The President of Wheat Growers’ Board of Directors, Hal Clemensen, spoke at the Chamberlain event, thanking Secretary Foxx for his commitment to the project and his trip to South Dakota to personally see the need. Clemensen praised the cooperative spirit that made the project possible.
“Our federal representatives, many of our state representatives, local government officials and Rails to the Future have worked very hard to make this heavy rail expansion and rehabilitation a reality. This cooperation will lead to immediate economic development that will have a lasting impact in south central South Dakota and beyond. As a South Dakota farmer, I’m proud to show the rest of the country what can happen when we all work together.”
Ground has been broken for Wheat Growers’ Kennebec project. Dirt work and construction are underway, with the goal of having the agronomy facility ready for business by the winter of 2015/2016 and the grain handling facility completed in time for harvest 2016.