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Thune's Legislation Could Lead to Thousands of South Dakota Jobs

Major Railroad Initiative Could Have Massive Economic Impact

November 5, 2005

South Dakota —  Senator John Thune today announced a major new transportation development in South Dakota. If approved, this initiative would represent the largest private investment in South Dakota's history and would result in the creation of thousands of jobs.

The Transportation Reauthorization bill, recently signed into law, included a provision authored by Senator Thune that expands the Railroad Rehabilitation Infrastructure Financing (RRIF) program from $3.5 billion to $35 billion with $7 billion set aside for smaller class II and III railroads.

The Thune provision allows the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad and the Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad to apply for a loan package totaling $2.5 billion to build or rehabilitate over 1,300 miles of rail, the majority of which would be spent in South Dakota. If approved, the loan would finance South Dakota's largest railroad infrastructure program.

"This project could transform South Dakota's economy for generations," said Thune. "I am a big believer in this project. I advocated for this initiative while I was in the House of Representatives, while I was in the private sector and have continued to fight for it while serving in the Senate. A project of this magnitude could have a massive economic impact throughout the state. This is the type of development that South Dakota needs to build and strengthen our economy."

Senator Trent Lott, chairman of the Surface Transportation Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which oversaw rail provisions in the Transportation Reauthorization bill, made the following comments:

"Senator Thune's leadership and hard work were essential to making the RRIF provision a reality. With his years of experience in railroads, Senator Thune was an effective and persuasive advocate for this Senate provision," Lott said. "This loan program is good for South Dakota and good for America, and I was pleased to work together with Senator Thune to make it happen."

John Thune served as South Dakota's State Railroad Director from 1991 to 1993.