South Dakota State Officials Looking Into Possible Sale of State-Owned Rail Lines

(WNAX) — The South Dakota Railroad Board has authorized the Department of Transportation to begin a process that could lead to the sale of state-owned rail lines. D.O.T. Secretary Darin Bergquist says selling the lines has always been part of the plan…

“I think the intent was always to someday get them back in…in the private hands and certainly over time we’ve got a big chunk of those and soul to BNSF and in those lines are working great. And the Rail Board done a lot of good work over the last 10 years or so to rehab and…and expand and restore service on the…on the state-owned segments and I think it’s just time that…that we at least take a look at whether or not these lines will be better in private hands.”

Bergquist says state ownership may have slowed some potential investments…

“Our operators that operate on them now, under a lease agreement are really leery of making any large capital investment in a line they don’t own. We do know there’s been some concern expressed by developers that…that entities aren’t willing to make a long-term capital investment to project a long line while it’s in state ownership and not certain what the future will be.”

Bergquist says they could have some sale proposals ready later this summer…

“The Board asked the Department to go back and work with legal counsel and putting together kind of solicitation packages for each of the segments aligned and we’ll start doing that and hopefully the plan is that no later than the next Rail Board meeting and possibly sooner, we’ll have those things just put together so the Board can review’em and approve sending them out to interested parties.”

Potential tracks to be sold include the MRC from Mitchell west, the Napa to Platte line, the Sioux River line and the Aberdeen to Britton line.