The Kansas Department of Transportation awarded $5 million in grants to 13 small railroad-related projects. On Oct. 6, Gov. Laura Kelly and Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz announced the recipients of KDOT’s Short Line Rail Fund program.


Four projects were awarded to short-line railroads and nine projects were awarded to grain elevators. The program is a partnership between the public and private sector, as applicants are required to provide 30% in matching funds. This year’s selected projects will improve and/or construct nearly 15 miles of track totaling a $7 million investment.


"This will help a lot of small towns and small elevators," said Ron Seeber, president and CEO of the Kansas Grain and Feed Association. "This will allow farmers to get their products onto the rail car and have it sold more efficiently."


Short-line railroads are smaller lines that run to larger railroad lines. By increasing and helping improve these lines, grain elevators and other ag-related businesses have the opportunity to transport their goods by rail, possibly saving on cost and time.


Along with adding more tracks, better track mergers and increased bridge capacity, this grant allows more cars to get loaded at once and provides stops at new locations.


The Short Line Rail Fund was created under the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program.


"KDOT recognizes the important role that rail plays in our state’s economy, and the Short Line Rail Improvement Fund is another opportunity for us to partner with industry to help modernize and make needed improvements," Lorenz said in a release. "Across all of our funding programs, KDOT is partnering on rail projects worth over $102 million in 36 counties across Kansas."


Short Line Rail Improvement Funds were given to short-line railroads Cimarron Valley Railway, New Century Air Center Railroad, Rail Yard Rehabilitation, South Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad and V&S Railway. Frontier Ag, Scott City Coop, Scoular Grain and Skyland Grain will improve rail lines on their sites, as well.


"It will allow the rail infrastructure in Kansas to update their tracks or provide rail access," Seeber said.