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State rail board agrees to trade sliver of land to Dakota Plains

PIERRE -- The South Dakota Railroad Board agreed Wednesday to swap land with Dakota Plains Ag Services at the proposed train yard and agricultural loading facilities at Napa junction in Yankton County.

PIERRE - The South Dakota Railroad Board agreed Wednesday to swap land with Dakota Plains Ag Services at the proposed train yard and agricultural loading facilities at Napa junction in Yankton County.

The board approved relinquishing 20 feet of right of way along part of the state-owned railroad in return for receiving additional right of way at another part of the line there.

The overall trade calls for Dakota Plains to gain 0.99 of an acre in return for giving 2.8 acres of its property at the site to the state.

No cash is involved. The board voted 7-0 to accept the deal. Getting the 20 feet was one of the last hurdles before the Dakota Plains project can proceed.

"This is what we figure is most beneficial for everyone," Todd Yeaton of Highmore, the board chairman, said.

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He said the purpose is safety, so there can be 23 feet between the centerlines of the state-owned track and the track that Dakota Plains plans to be built.

Yeaton said he's been in conversations with staff from the governor's office and with Dakota Plains officials.

"It's maybe not the magic bullet, but under the circumstances of the situation is the best option for the state," he said.

The right of way would be reduced from 50 feet to 30 feet on the segment of state-owned line and would expand from 50 feet to 100 feet on the next state-owned piece of track.

The area with 100 feet of right of way could be adapted to hold several tracks for rail-car storage. The standard for parked storage is 15 feet between the tracks.

The state board also heard from Ralph Marquardt of Yankton, a businessman who said he's working on an agricultural loading site at Tabor along the Napa-Platte line.

Marquardt, who serves on the state Transportation Commission, said he hopes he would get the same treatment as Dakota Plains if he sought assistance from the railroad board on access in the future.

"We all know we have to look at tomorrow, not today," Marquardt said.

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