Question of Rail Bridge Ownership still unanswered, according to Friends of the Rail Bridge

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 6:55 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Friends of the Rail Bridge (FORB) received a letter late last week from the Coast Guard, but it didn’t contain the answer they were hoping for.

The ownership of the rail bridge connecting Bismarck and Mandan has been under contention between BNSF Railway and Friends of the Rail Bridge. FORB has twice appealed to North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley to issue an opinion on ownership and twice he has declined to do so. Therefore, the Coast Guard has said they are moving forward with BNSF’s permit request, something FORB was promised wouldn’t happen.

“That’s not what you promised us. You promised you would not do any further work until this matter of ownership was settled. So, we have not heard back from the Coast Guard,” said FORB President Mark Zimmerman.

BNSF has stated that FORB is using delay tactics to slow down the process of tearing down the bridge.

“We would already have the bridge built, and we would be operating on the bridge by now and here we are five years into this permitting process and this claim of ownership by FORB just feels like another attempt to delay,” said Amy McBeth, regional director of public affairs for BNSF.

FORB says they will take this issue to court if they feel that is an appropriate course of action, and BNSF says they are ready to defend their perceived ownership of the bridge at all costs.

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