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Published August 18 2012

Obama fast tracks Devils Lake rail project

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. – The Obama administration announced a railroad improvement project near here is one of four to be expedited.

The Devils Lake Rail Improvements project will raise the BNSF Railway line to address the rising level of Devils Lake and ensure the line remains open to passenger and freight traffic.

The project received a $10 million grant for phased infrastructure improvements as part of an overall $100 million program, and will allow Amtrak's operating speeds to increase, improve long-term reliability and lower maintenance costs for both passenger and freight rail.

The project is part of President Barack Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative, aimed at four nationally and regionally significant transportation projects.

The rail line connects rural communities in North Dakota, Montana, and eastern Washington to larger urban centers.

The rail improvements will be constructed with little to no environmental impact, and all work will be completed within existing BNSF right-of-way.

A target date for completing the federal permit and review decisions is by the end of this year with construction expected in the summer of 2013.

The three other ventures are the Kennebec Bridge Replacement Project in Maine, the Columbia River Crossing in Oregon and Washington and Point Defiance Bypass in Washington.