North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Previous Dismissal of FORB Lawsuit

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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Bruce Kelly

BISMARCK, N.D. - On Thursday, February 8th, the North Dakota Supreme Court unanimously ruled to uphold the previous dismissal of FORB’s lawsuit.

In the matter of the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge that crosses the MIssouri River, the North Dakota Supreme Court upheld the previous dismissal of the Friends of the Rail Bridge lawsuit. In 2023, the non-profit citizen group “challenged ‘a state district judge’s ruling in June that upheld a decision by the state Department of Water Resources in April to grant BNSF two sovereign land permits – the final hurdle the railroad needed to clear to launch construction.’ One of the permits is for the removal of the current rail bridge, and the other is for construction of the new one.” FORB argued that BNSF could not demolish the existing rail bridge because ownership of the bridge fell under the State of North Dakota.

Last September, the North Dakota Supreme Court denied FORB’s request that the court take jurisdiction over the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge. On November 16th, FORB appeared before the North Dakota Supreme Court to argue against tearing down the 140-year old structure. 

On Thursday, February 8th, the North Dakota Supreme Court dismissed the request because FORB did not request “a hearing under the correct section of state law”, according to KXNET. Ruling unanimously, the North Dakota Supreme Court upheld South Central District Judge Jackson Lofgren’s previous dismissal of the lawsuit. 

According to the Bismarck Tribune, BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth stated that the Class I is “pleased with the court’s decision affirming the previous dismissal of FORB’s challenge. . . Construction of the new railroad bridge is underway. When the project is complete, our new railroad bridge will safely and efficiently serve our customers in the state and throughout the country for another 100 years. This is a massive infrastructure project privately funded and maintained that the state’s energy, agriculture and construction industries rely on, and we’re pleased with this outcome.”

Currently, the Class I has been working on construction of the new rail bridge. In January, it was reported that crews are working on clearing trees and other vegetation while constructing an access road to build the new bridge.

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