South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed Senate Bill 16 into law last week, authorizing $6.25 million in state funds for the restoration of a railroad line from Milbank to Sisseton. The appropriation is conditional upon receiving federal grant funds for rail line rehabilitation.
Sisseton Milbank Railroad, a subsidiary owned by the Twin Cities & Western Railroad, operates 37 miles of track between Milbank and Sisseton. Sisseton Milbank Railroad serves several South Dakota communities, including Sisseton, Peever, Wilmot and Corona. The railroad deals with commodities such as wheat, corn, soybeans, fertilizers and plastics, as reported by local outlet KXLG Radio.
In recent years, the Sisseton Milbank Railroad has deteriorated to the point where it can no longer withstand the weight of modern railroad cars, the report said. The agricultural supplies loaded on this section of rail travel at speeds ranging from 3 to 5 miles per hour, with a one-way trip taking approximately eight hours.
According to Mark Wegner, president of the Twin Cities & Western Railroad, improving the track is critical. Officials also said a better rail line would enable more agricultural producers to transport commodities by rail rather than relying on trucks, the report said.
Wegner is currently coordinating with the federal government, South Dakota’s congressional delegation, and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Sioux Tribe, to acquire the federal funding needed to finish the project.