Rail bridge dispute continues

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 4:14 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The Friends of the Rail Bridge are continuing their fight to preserve the historic structure. The group is taking more legal action a month after the US Coast Guard ruled BNSF has the right to tear down the bridge.

Friends of the Rail Bridge are making a move they are calling big and bold. The group has brought forth three key issues they say BNSF has not addressed in terms of tearing down the bridge.

“We have the opportunity to go big or go home in our efforts to save our iconic and beloved rail bridge,” said Mark Zimmerman, FORB president.

The three issues the groups said needs to be resolved involve state law permits. The group says BNSF has not obtained a water quality certificate, a sovereign lands permit and approval from the State Historical Board to tear it down.

”It was obvious to me that a lot of the important legal issues were overlooked,” said Lyle Witham, FORB in-house counsel.

BNSF said in a statement that “it is disappointing to see FORB’s latest effort to try and delay this critical project. Delaying building a new bridge has real consequences to all North Dakota industries that rely on .... rail transportation.”

FORB says they remain committed to exhausting every option to help preserve the bridge.

“Along with the North Dakota State Capitol this bridge is the most visible structure that identifies Bismarck and Mandan,” said Zimmerman.

The bridge was completed in 1883 making it almost 140 years old.

Friends of the Rail Bridge are requesting an investigatory hearing on whether BNSF or the state own the bridge. BNSF states they will not be commenting on the permit process at this point.