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Change orders raise SEPA rail loop cost

The Spiritwood Energy Park Association Board of Directors approved two change orders totaling more than $500,000 during its regular meeting Friday.

The changes bring the total projected cost of the rail loop project to more than $10 million. The SEPA rail loop is a joint project of Great River Energy and the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. and will provide rail access to the Dakota Spirit AgEnergy ethanol plant and possible future industrial projects in the area.

The SEPA Board approved taking responsibility for construction of the rail bed on the portion of the loop that directly serves DSA at a cost of $225,000. The project budget included contingency funds, which covered the cost of the change.

Joe Larson, attorney for JSDC, said that neither DSA nor SEPA had included that work in the construction contracts.

“Both parties thought the other was doing the work,” he said.

Rich Garman, project engineer, said having one contractor do the entire loop project would provide the best results.

The second change came at the request of BNSF Railway. The plans had included sidings for single cars and for cars with mechanical problems. BNSF requested those sidings be relocated and enlarged. Total cost for the change is estimated at $348,000.

“This makes the track much more acceptable to them,” Garman said.

Contingency funds within the plans did not cover the cost of this change order. The cost of the entire project increased from $9.9 million to $10.2 million with this change order, according to Sandra Broekema, business development director for GRE.

Garman said the project is currently only slightly behind schedule despite wet weather.

“I’m not whining about the weather,” he said. “But we’ve had 11.53 inches of rain since construction started and rain 36 days out of the 60 days.”

Most of the work to build the rail beds has been completed with construction still ongoing in low and wet areas. Track laying has begun in two separate locations on the loop.

Completion of the rail loop is scheduled for December. Dakota, Missouri Valley and Western Railroad is the primary contractor with Guthmiller Earthmoving doing the rail bed work.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at