ND Leaders Review Strategy to Raise DL Rail Line

Delegation Meets with Heads of BNSF, Amtrak to Discuss Threatened Line

Washington – Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven and Congressman Rick Berg today met with the leaders of Amtrak and BNSF Railway to review plans to raise a rail line in the Devils Lake basin that is threatened  by floodwaters.

 "Time is of the essence here. The rising waters of Devils Lake continue to threaten this rail line and bridges near Churchs Ferry.  As a result, passenger service on the Amtrak Empire Builder line is at risk.  A flooded line would cause Amtrak to reroute trains which would impact freight service for BNSF," the delegation said in a joint statement.   

At today's meeting with BNSF CEO Matt Rose and Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman, the delegation reviewed plans for raising the rail line and bridges near Devils Lake and keeping the Empire Builder running while work is underway  

The leaders from Amtrak and BNSF said the plan is to raise the rail line and bridges incrementally over three years at a cost of $97.4 million.   Amtrak and BNSF each agreed to pay one-third of the costs for the project.  They also indicated that they plan to invest their own resources to begin raising the rail line as early as this spring.   

BNSF and Amtrak have committed to provide the entire amount of funding for this year's work as opposed to waiting to access the $10 million in federal grants from the US Department of Transportation.  North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple  has also committed to requesting $10 million from the State in his next budget for the Devils Lake project.  

In 2010, Amtrak had more than 123,000 boardings and offloads in North Dakota.  Nearly a quarter of that ridership was from the cities of Grand Forks, Devils Lake and Rugby.