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CHS Midwest Co-op to expand rails

"Cenex Harvest States corporate office has a system for projects like this," said Jay Baxter, site manager for Midwest Cooperatives in Philip. "They are currently bidding out for the project. We are hoping for the work to be done in three to four months."

CHS Midwest Cooperatives will expand its own railroad side track capability from 25 to 35 railroad cars. An existing loading rail line will be lengthened eastward. It, and a new line, will both extend across S. Auto Avenue. The gravel road will be closed an estimated one day a week for grain loading purposes.

"We're really going to do our best there," said Baxter. "We aren't going to close the road until we absolutely have to, and open it again as soon as possible. We want to be cognizant of peoples' right to use the road, to be neighborly," he said.

"We are going to put in a closure gate across the road. It'll be safer then it has been in the past," said Baxter.

Baxter compared the loading of railroad cars on side lines, and then the reconnecting of those cars to the engines, to figuring out a Rubic's Cube. The extra railroad sidings should help with this process and will increase the number of railroad cars able to be loaded for transport.

"It's amazing how fast they can put in track. We will try to keep as much of the work local as possible," said Baxter.

"We are hoping the investment will add service to our existing patron base. It should allow us to help move one million additional bushel per year. That should help keep the farmers coming in more steady. That is one problem we have in the industry is that when farmers want to bring their grain to market, their local elevator sometimes is full. Moving additional bushels should help fix that problem," said Baxter.

"Part of the reason for the problem is farmers are raising more grain than ever before. Our system was created years ago, and now our industry is going through growing pains, needing increased storage and faster turnover. This siding will help with faster turnover. The new grain bins we are seeing being built on farms should help with the infrastructure problem as well."

Milt Handcock, co-op general manager, said, "Midwest Co-op as a company strives to meet the needs of our customers. This is one example toward that cause. Our board has been trying to determine what type of expansion will have the most value for our producers. After debating the merits of increased storage capacity or additional capacity for rail service, they determined additional rail capacity would best serve the needs of our producers."

The project's building permits have already been granted by the Philip City Council. In a letter to Mayor John Hart from Civil Design Inc., the firm is under contract with CHS Midwest Co-op to design two railroad sidings to expand the railroad shipping capacity of Midwest's grain handling facility on Cherry Street. The sidings will be installed east of the facility on the south side of the current railway tracks, and will extend eastward across S. Auto Avenue.