By Fred Arnold Telescope Publisher
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Things are definitely on the upswing for the KYLE Railroad.
The short-line railroad, which runs through Belleville and Republic County, is seeing improvements to trackage and infrastructure in the millions of dollars.
According to Jeffery Van Schaick, vice-president for government affairs for the KYLE, the railroad, which is a subsidiary of the Genessee & Wyoming Railroad, is investing heavily in North Central Kansas operations.
“The work is part of a capital project underway from Scandia to Lebanon, including 20,000 wood crossties, new ballast stone, and resurfacing,” he said.
Van Schaick said work on the Republican River bridge, south of Scandia, that washed out years ago, will also be completed this summer. The cost of the repair project has been estimated at over $1 million.
“This is really a good PR project which will be good for increased rail traffic, which will open the Yuma line,” he said.
Van Schaick declined to say what type of train traffic the Yuma line might carry but told the Telescope he would provide more information in the coming weeks.
Last week the Kansas Department of Transportation announced that service grants were awarded to improve rail service statewide, totalling $11.5 million. Of those funds the KYLE was the state’s largest recipient being awarded $2.3. According to Van Schaick the funds will be used to upgrade lighter rail with a heavier duty grade. “We will be replacing 4.45 miles of 85 pound rail with 115 pound welded rail between Beloit and Glen Elder,” he said.
Bridge To Remain
Republic County commissioners met via conference call with KYLE officials two weeks ago to discuss the possibility of dismantling the bridge that runs east of Belleville to Munden. County road superintendent Zenger had been in favor of razing the structure since it is not an active track. The county had hoped that if the railroad would dismantle the bridge, the base road could be expanded to handle larger trucks. Railroad officials, however, said they were opposed to tearing down the bridge and had plans to again use that trackage.
“The KYLE railroad does not want to remove the overpass tracks but keep the railroad tracks active occasionally,” Republic County clerk Kathleen Marsicek told the Telescope.
The Telescope asked Van Schaik how trackage east of Belleville might be used in the future, whether that portion of the line would be used for freight or railcar storage. He was non-committal but did note that railway crews have been working on that portion of the line to make it suitable for rail car storage.
In recent weeks some 1,400 cars that had been stored by the KYLE between Scandia and Norway have been removed, while the line between Belleville and Munden has seen an increase in empty rail cars.