17 Aug KGFA proudly assists members in receiving short line rail funding for second-straight year
Kansas Grain and Feed Association’s (KGFA) member Gavilon Grain hosted a celebratory event at its location in Wichita Tuesday morning announcing recipients of short line rail improvement funding from the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Plan.
KGFA President and CEO Ron Seeber and Gavilon’s Vice President and General Manager of the North America Grain Division Matt Gibson joined remarks from Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz.
“The infrastructure in the United States is second to none, however our competitors in other countries are making great strides in their infrastructure allowing them to compete at a much more competitive level,” Gibson said. “Partnerships between industry and government like the Kansas short line rail improvement program help us keep these advantages we currently have in place.”
The 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 projects for funding of rail sidings, rehabilitation and track extensions were: Bartlett Grain (Barton County), Central Valley Ag Coop (Mitchell County), Gavilon Grain (Sedgwick County), Hutchinson Transportation (Reno County), Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad (Sedgwick County) Kirk Grain (Scott County), KYLE Railroad (Mitchell County), Midland Marketing Cooperative (Rush County), The Scoular Company (Osborne County), South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad (Crawford County).
“Combining state and private funds to improve local infrastructure illustrates a core principal of the IKE program,” Kelly said. “Through mutual commitment, and by emphasizing right size, practical improvements we can address critical infrastructure needs like short line rail improvements. By modernizing short line rail roads we enable the shippers they serve to keep our economy moving in the right direction, improving our rail operations, economic competitiveness and safety.”
Six projects were awarded to shippers and four projects were awarded to short line railroads in nine counties across Kansas. State funding for the individual projects ranges from $56,000 for the installation of new scales to nearly $2 million for siding expansion to increase railcar capacity and carloading capabilities.
Switch and crossing replacements will reduce crossing delays for vehicles. State funding for the 10 projects will be enhanced by a 30 percent match from each recipient, meaning more than $7.4 million will be invested in the state’s agricultural infrastructure.
When completed, the improved rail infrastructure will allow shippers to nearly double railcar loads annually, up to 4,200 cars a year, decreasing the amount of heavy truck traffic on Kansas highways by nearly 14,000 per year. “When we successfully helped pass this legislation in 2020, we knew everyone will benefit from this program for many years to come,” Seeber said. “Farmers will see improved rail service to ship their crops and receive inputs to grow them. Rail and shipper employees receive improved safety. Our underserved Kansas communities welcome the economic development of bringing new business and construction to their towns and we experience a decreased need for over-the-road transportation.”