Hoeven Works to Support Devils Lake Rail, Williston Bypass Projects

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today met with BNSF CEO and President Matt Rose to discuss plans to rebuild a 20-mile span of track and two bridges near Churchs Ferry that serves Amtrak’s Empire Builder line across northern North Dakota. The line serves both passenger and freight service through Devils Lake, Rugby, Minot, Fargo, Grand Forks, Stanley and Williston. The track was closed several times this spring due to flooding and high water.


Rose earlier this year committed BNSF to funding one-third of the $100 million project, and will also work with Amtrak to help finance another one-third. The state of North Dakota would need to provide the remaining third. Hoeven and the congressional delegation are working with state officials to help with the state’s share through a Department of Transportation infrastructure grant program.


To that end, Hoeven also spoke this morning with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Roy LaHood in support of the state’s application for $33 million in funding for the project through the federal competitive TIGER Grant Program, which is designed to bolster the nation’s transportation infrastructure and economic competitiveness. Hoeven told LaHood that the rail project more than meets the primary and secondary selection criteria for the program.


“The Devils Lake rail project shares costs, demonstrating real collaboration among partners, and serves both passenger service for Amtrak and freight service for BNSF,” Hoeven said. “It clearly enhances economic competitiveness for the entire region, and has both statewide and national benefits.”


Hoeven also spoke with LaHood in support of the state’s application for funding to advance the Williston Bypass Project, which will route traffic around the city to relieve traffic congestion due to heightened oil industry activity in the region.


“Oil and gas development in the Williston Basin is helping to create jobs and boost the nation’s supply of domestic energy, but residents are feeling the impacts of rapid economic growth on their community,” Hoeven said. “Support for this bypass project will not only help provide the infrastructure they need for continued growth but also bring much-needed relief to the businesses and families who live and work in the region.”


LaHood said TIGER Grants are extremely competitive. The program has about $18 billion in requests from across the country and $500 million available for projects.