Railroad relocation project proposal - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Railroad relocation project proposal

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What to do with the downtown rail yards is a question the city has been looking for answers to for years, until now.

Mayor Mike Huether said the city has a new concept to consider. "Basically, have the city purchase the land from Burlington Northern and then redevelop it. And we'll still have good service from Burlington Northern and other railroad companies, but it's simpler, we don't have to create our own switching station in Brandon or someplace else. It should take less time, and it just makes a bit more South Dakota sense," Mayor Mike Huether said.

That leave some people wondering, what will happen to the rail traffic currently coming through Sioux Falls.  BNSF Railway has the answer.

"Under this idea, we wouldn't look to build another yard in the area, we would evaluate if it's possible to practically do some of that work, someplace else and what the cost would be associated with that", said BNSF Railway spokesperson Amy McBeth.

If the plan goes through, developer Jeff Scherschligt knows how he would like to use the yards.

"We believe the best use of the railroad switching land is to have it as parking, to support more dense and high-rise development along the river greenway," Scherschligt said.

His plan for the future of the greenway is to make it a place to live, work and play.

"Ultimately, the idea here is to get retail along the river greenway so you get people down using it, so you have bars, restaurants, ice cream shops, things that will get people down here and involved with the river greenway," Scherschligt said.

Removing the rail yards will be no easy task, requiring the cooperation of the city and BNSF Railway, not to mention some help from the federal government.

"We were able to acquire an earmark from the federal government, to help relocate these railroad tracks, in the spirit of creating economic and commercial opportunities for our great city," Mayor Mike Huether said.

The city says it has $35 million in funds available for the relocation project. Exactly how that money will be used is yet to be determined.

The downtown Sioux Falls Development Committee says if the city can clear out the railroad, the entire face of downtown will change.  The city adds it will work with local historians on preserving certain elements of the rail yard.


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