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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE A long-discussed project to divert coal trains from the center of Springfield is back on track. City Council will meet at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 24 in Council Chambers at Historic City Hall to hear the first reading of a bill to transfer just over two and a half acres of property known as Nichols Junction in northwest Springfield to BNSF Railway Company for the purposes of building a new connection track – known as the West Wye project – for coal trains headed to City Utilities’ John Twitty Energy Center in southwest Springfield. The transfer of the property is the final step to completing the West Wye project. However, the West Wye is the first of many projects identified in a long-range plan to create a more efficient and safe rail system through the city, and support the redevelopment of central Springfield, according to interim Economic Development Director Sarah Kerner. “The rail relocation program will create a safer pedestrian and vehicular environment through the center of the city; improve coal delivery to the power plant; and enhance economic development opportunities for residential, business, and recreational facilities within the center city, and expand the open-space system in the West Meadows portion of Jordan Valley Park,” Kerner said. The project enables the future removal of track within the western portion of Jordan Valley Park’s West Meadows area, by diverting coal train activity from the Fort Scott and Cherokee subdivisions out of BNSF's main yard off North Kansas Expressway, thus freeing up space in the main yard for tracks that are currently located in West Meadows. The trains currently travel to the main yard to be reconfigured, and then backtrack west on a different track to the power plant. The new wye connection track will allow trains to head directly to the plant, bypassing much of the city altogether. In exchange for transferring the property to BNSF, the City will receive credit toward future land purchases or construction work from BNSF. "This credit will be very useful to the City as it continues to work with BNSF on many joint projects that benefit the community,” Kerner said. The exact amount of credit the City will receive in exchange for this property will be based on actual City expenditures to acquire the property and construct the West Wye facility, which is estimated to be about $752,000. The $3.3 million project includes about $2.4 million in federal funds and $150,000 in state funds. Construction on the wye connection is expected to begin next month. # # # For media information, contact Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, at 417-380-3352 or [email protected]