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Missouri, South Dakota Release Draft State Rail Plans

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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The Missouri and South Dakota departments of transportation have issued draft 2022 freight and rail plans for public feedback.

Under 49 U.S. Code Chapter 227, each state, at its own election, may prepare and maintain a state rail plan, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Such plans set forth state policy involving freight and passenger rail transportation, including commuter rail operations; present priorities and strategies to enhance rail service in the state that benefits the public; and serve as the basis for federal and state rail investments.

The draft 2022 Missouri State Freight and Rail Plan is a “next-generation blueprint” for guiding investments in the multimodal freight and passenger rail network, according to Missouri DOT. It includes data that will help inform decisions on projects that spur economic growth, maintain systems, ensure safety, offer transportation choices, improve reliability, and reduce congestion.

For 2022, officials opted to integrate the State Freight plan (last updated in 2017) and the State Rail plan (last updated in 2012) in an aim “to access portions of the federal funds and apply for multiple discretionary grants.”

“The pandemic exposed many challenges in the supply chain,” Missouri DOT Waterways and Freight Administrator Cheryl Ball said. “We were fortunate to have been working on this plan over the past two years so we could incorporate adaptations for the rapidly evolving supply chain into our recommendations for future transportation investments.”

Public comments can be made online through March 31. The final plan will be presented to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission at its May meeting.

The draft 2022 South Dakota State Rail Plan identifies objectives and plans for rail in the state; provides a rail infrastructure inventory; offers an analysis of rail-related economic, safety and environmental impacts; covers the state’s policies governing investment in rail activities and infrastructure; reviews the policies, needs and issues related to the potential introduction of passenger service in South Dakota; and establishes a long-range investment program and policies for current and future rail infrastructure. It was last updated in 2014.

To help guide the DOT on how to better serve communities and where to invest resources, the public can provide feedback online through April 3.

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