SD: Membership approved to support passenger rail route through Jamestown

May 8, 2024
The Jamestown City Council approved annual membership in the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority, which is planning to restore passenger rail with a stop in Jamestown on Amtrak's North Coast Hiawatha.

May 6—JAMESTOWN — The Jamestown City Council in a 4-1 vote approved an annual membership in the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority to support a long-distance passenger rail route that could go through Jamestown in the future.

Mayor Dwaine Heinrich and Councilmen Brian Kamlitz, David Schloegel and David Steele approved the membership while Councilman Dan Buchanan was opposed at the meeting on Monday, May 6.

The City Council did not join the membership in the High Speed Rail Alliance. The annual membership would have cost $250 per year.

The annual membership in the High Speed Rail Alliance supports the creation of the former long-distance passenger rail route from Chicago to Seattle.

Steele said the High Speed Rail Alliance passenger rail route would not go through Jamestown.

The annual membership in the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority will cost $2,000 per year.

The annual membership supports the planning and development of the long-distance passenger rail route from Chicago to Seattle.

Steele said Jamestown would be a stop for the rail route because it is a historic site.

"The purpose is to have a seat at the table with discussions that are taking place and continue to evolve," Steele said.

In December, the Federal Railroad Administration awarded a $500,000 grant from its Corridor Identification and Development Program to the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority to restore passenger rail service on Amtrak's North Coast Hiawatha Chicago to Seattle route. Passenger rail projects in Amtrak's North Coast Hiawatha are overseen by the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority.

Steele said the annual membership will allow for the city of Jamestown to work with Amtrak and BNSF Railway Co. He said BNSF fully supports the project.

He said the membership also assists with grant opportunities and grant-application processes for rail-related projects. He said the city will need to work with Amtrak for a ticketing office.

"Some communities are looking at buildings that are multipurpose with restaurant possibilities," he said.

Steele said grant opportunities could also be available for shuttle and taxi services to take passengers from the rail station and back.

He also said the rail service would provide two daily roundtrips.

Buchanan asked about the use of other dollars to potentially pay for the annual membership.

Heinrich said he visited with the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. and the city can have further discussions with the organization going forward.

At the Jamestown Finance and Legal Committee meeting in April, Heinrich said economic development dollars through the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. potentially could be used for the memberships rather than general fund dollars.

The City Council unanimously approved a cost-share reimbursement agreement with the North Dakota State Water Commission for the lime sludge filter press and recycle and reuse project. Heinrich was also authorized to sign the agreement.

The agreement says the State Water Commission will provide the city of Jamestown with a cost share not to exceed $749,550 to reimburse 60% of the eligible costs incurred in the project.

The city of Jamestown is requesting preconstruction cost-share for its lime sludge filter press and recycle and reuse project, according to a memo to the State Water Commission from Andrea Travnicek, director of the North Dakota Department of Water Resources.

The project includes replacing two lime sludge filter presses and constructing a new water depot to recycle filter backwash and filter press effluent and an associated overflow pond, the memo says.

"Due to extended delivery lead times, the City has included procurement costs for the filter presses in this request," Travnicek wrote in the memo.

Heinrich said the total cost of the project is over $4 million.

"What we bid was for the lime press itself, that piece of equipment," he said. "So we are now having to go back and rebid the whole project including installation and all that. It is our hope and our expectation that down the road we will receive an additional $2,449,200 of the SWC to assist with the project."

In other business, the City Council unanimously approved upfitting three new Jamestown Police Department vehicles. It will cost over $23,600 for the K-9 unit and about $12,000 for two other vehicles.

Scott Edinger, chief of police, said there is some trade-in value to offset some of the costs.


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