Fire destroys railroad bridge near Beulah, cutting off rail access for Basin Electric, Dakota Gas facilities

Local News

Photo via Beulah Fire Chief Eli Schumann

A wooden railroad bridge on the BNSF Railway track near Beulah destroyed by fire August 31 has left Basin Electric without rail access to three of its energy production and product facilities.

The Spring Creek crossing bridge, located less than two miles west of Beulah, is on a rail line that connects Dakota Gasification CompanyAntelope Valley Station and The Coteau Properties Company’s Freedom Mine to the main rail line.

The eight-mile section of railway is the only way to move product in or out of the three facilities.

But the bridge fire Monday has stopped that process.

Spring Creek railroad bridge. Photo via Beulah Fire Chief Eli Schumann

“We use the railroad to bring in chemicals and ship out several products to market,” said Basin Electric vice president and Great Plains Synfuel Plant manager Daler Johnson. “Our ability to move anything by rail is essentially cut off until the bridge is replaced.”

The Antelope Valley Station uses the railway to bring in lime, while the Freedom Mine uses it to transport coal to Leland Olds Station near Stanton.

BNSF Railway officials have told Basin the railroad will replace the bridge — they’re deciding whether to build a concrete and steel version or rebuild the wooden structure.

The railroad says a new bridge could potentially be in place in two to four weeks, depending on structural damage to the old bridge.

In the meantime, Basin is looking at temporarily shipping product to its customers by truck until the railroad bridge is replaced.

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