Belle Fourche Development Corporation (BFDC) in the US has started construction on a new transloading facility with an aim to expand the region’s railway.

Dirt work on the new railyard has commenced and is expected to be completed by next month.

This $2.4m project, which is anticipated to complete by mid-July 2022, has been financed mainly through a US Federal Rail Administration (FRA) grant.

The grant was awarded on an 80/20 match basis, with BFDC required to secure 20% of the amount, or $480,000 to receive the grant.

Half of this was provided by a South Dakota Local Infrastructure Improvement Project grant through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

The outstanding $240,000 was divided between Belle Fourche and Butte County.

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On completion, Belle Fourche’s railyard will be able to handle around 90 railcars.

As part of the project, two extra tracks with four turn-outs will also be included.

The project will help establish the ‘largest’ storage facility on the Rapid City Pierre & Eastern (RCP&E) railroad’s short line, as well as triple the rail capacity at the industrial park.

RCP&E provides rail services through Belle Fourche and across Wyoming, Nebraska and Minnesota.

This railroad started operations in 2014 when parent firm Genesee & Wyoming (G&W) acquired it from the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern.

Based in Connecticut, G&W is said to be the largest holder of short-line railroads in the country while the 1,207km RCP&E is the longest rail line on the system.

G&W industrial development assistant vice-president Zach Boehme said: “The ability to have more capacity and handle unit-train type volumes makes this an extremely strategic location for us and I think for the Belle Fourche community as well.

“After the expansion is complete this facility will hold 90 cars at any given time. Our railroad offers five-day a week service so essentially you could rotate through 90 cars, five days a week.

BFDC executive director Hollie Stalder said: “It’s pretty exciting to be here after three years of nurturing the project along. It’s going to mean good business, new jobs and expansion of services in the industrial park which is what we’re all about.”

Located in South Dakota, Belle Fourche has a railyard that can hold up to 27 cars.