Area rail sale still unsettledThe future turned uncertain again Monday for the stretch of railroad owned by the state of South Dakota between Napa Junction and Platte.
By: Bob Mercer, The Daily Republic
PIERRE — The future turned uncertain again Monday for the stretch of railroad owned by the state of South Dakota between Napa Junction and Platte.
The financial backers of the proposed Wagner Native Ethanol project failed to deliver a check to buy the line for the state Railroad Board’s asking price of $1,488,812 that was set in 2006.
Monday marked the second time in two months that Wagner Native Ethanol missed the deadline for buying the segment of line in south-central South Dakota.
The state board on Oct. 20 had agreed to grant a reprieve until Monday.
State Railroad Board members will discuss the matter at their Dec. 21 meeting.
State Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist said the next steps are not clear.
“We don’t really know. This isn’t the first time the deadline expired and the board reinstated it,” Bergquist said.
Other companies have openly expressed interest in purchasing the line, either for a combination of partial operation and partial salvage, or possibly complete salvage of the old rail and other materials.
The state board has twice been told in recent months that financing for the purchase by Wagner Native Ethanol was nearly complete.
The regional railroad authority’s board last month officially requested that the state board keep the line in state ownership rather than sell it.
The Napa-Platte line came into state government’s ownership as part of the purchase approximately 30 years ago of the bankrupt Milwaukee Road lines.
The Napa-Platte segment covers about 82 miles and hasn’t been operated on a regular basis since 1989.