During 2018, SRF worked with Sherburne County and the Cities of Becker and Big Lake to investigate the feasibility of a potential rail park facility and increased rail use for economic development purposes. This study looked at the potential opportunities that increased rail service could provide and long-term implications of investing in such a facility would do for the local region. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) was also involved and helped provide context from a Class I railroad’s perspective.
SRF worked closely with the study partners to lead and facilitate several project team meetings. A scan of comparable sites was completed to show the study partners some specifics associated with other comparable sites. SRF also worked to develop various scenarios with potential site layouts showing rail and highway connectivity. These conceptual layouts were developed to show the size and magnitude of the potential development site and how it would be served by existing rail mainline and siding tracks. Cost estimates for associated infrastructure improvements were also developed as part of the study. Finally, an analysis of potential funding sources was completed for the study partners if they wanted to pursue future grant funding. SRF also worked very closely with another consultant to complete the economic impact analysis which determined the number of jobs, freight flows, and overall economic impact that a potential rail park site could have on the area. This information was packaged into a final report as well as a marketing booklet that can be used in discussions with potential investors discussing the possible sites.