North Dakota’s congressional delegation will host a meeting in Washington, D.C., next week to discuss the future of a section of railroad track near Devils Lake.
Federal leaders and state officials will join Sens. Kent Conrad and John Hoeven and Rep. Rick Berg on Capitol Hill next Wednesday to focus on a flood-threatened section of track near Devils Lake that impacts Amtrak service in Grand Forks, Devils Lake and Rugby.
Joe Szabo, administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration, and Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman will be at the meeting with the delegation and several North Dakota officials, including: Gov. Jack Dalrymple; Devils Lake Mayor Richard Johnson; Ramsey County Commission Chairman Joe Belford; and Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown.
The rising Devils Lake is threatening the rail line and bridges near Churchs Ferry, N.D., which has forced Amtrak to suspend service in recent weeks on the Empire Builder line, which runs through North Dakota, Montana, Idaho and Minnesota. The tracks are owned by BNSF Railway.
In a Thursday written statement, Conrad said he’s “pleased” the Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration are aware of the urgency of this issue:
“We are faced with a serious threat of Devils Lake flooding these rail lines. First and foremost we need to assess the line and bridges to ensure they remain safe for passengers. Then we need to evaluate all of the options for the future of this line. This meeting is going to offer everyone a real gut check.”