Kansas Grain and Feed Association’s (KGFA), along with industry stakeholders’, efforts to successfully include passage of the short line rail improvement fund into the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Plan during the 2020 Kansas legislative session paid off as the Kansas Dept. of Transportation (KDOT) announced four KGFA member locations who will receive cost-share funding Tuesday morning.
“We are very happy to be a recipient of this grant where everyone from our producers, to the state of Kansas as a whole wins with this program,” said David Cron, CEO of Skyland Grain.
“The biggest percentage of our locations are going to be on short line rails and by expediting the timing of upgrading our rail infrastructure our farmers win because our operating costs go down and the state of Kansas wins by reducing the number of trucks on our highways.
"This is a program that makes a lot of sense for everyone and we are thankful to be a recipient.”
The new cost-share grant program is a three-year, $15 million program that provides 70 percent state money to 30 percent investment by the eligible entity for improvements.
The geographically dispersed organizations awarded a total of nine projects for funding of rail sidings, rehabilitation and track extensions were: Cimarron Valley Railway, Frontier Ag, New Century Air Center Railroad, Scott City Coop, Scoular Grain, Skyland Grain, South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad and V&S Railway.
“We want to thank Governor Laura Kelly, Kansas Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz and the Kansas Legislature,” KGFA President and CEO Ron Seeber said.
“This announcement is exciting news for the state of Kansas and for all of the entities this program touches. It will tremendously benefit the grain and agriculture input industries, their producer-customers, the small communities where these projects reside and the rural Kansas economy as a whole.”
The projects span seven different counties on three short line railroads and will encompass nearly six miles of track improvement or new construction.
When completed, the improved rail infrastructure will allow shippers to nearly double railcar loads annually, up to 2,400 cars a year, decreasing the amount of heavy truck traffic on Kansas highways by nearly 10,000 per year.
“We are excited by the substantial increase of the rail shipment of grain and other agriculture products on a safer – improved – short line infrastructure,” Seeber said.
“This will not only result in less wear and tear on our state’s highways, but the economic development of bringing new business and construction to underserved communities in rural Kansas is an added bonus.”