Governor Kelly Breaks Ground on $15M Cimarron Valley Railroad Upgrades in Southwest Kansas

HUGOTON – Today, Governor Laura Kelly attended the groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate upcoming improvements to the Cimarron Valley Railroad in southwest Kansas from Dodge City to Hugoton. The railway was awarded nearly $15 million from both private and public sources, including the federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) fund and the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), to complete the Southwest Kansas Infrastructure Upgrade Project.

Governor Kelly directly advocated for the project’s grant application to the Federal Railroad Administration.

“These upgrades are not just an investment in our infrastructure, but an investment in our agriculture industry – and our economy as a whole,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “By rehabilitating over 85 miles of an essential rail line in southwest Kansas, this project will make it easier and more efficient for local businesses to transport biodiesel and other agricultural products.”

“The Cimarron Valley Railroad has been committed to transporting Kansas-grown goods across the country and the world in a safe, environmentally friendly, and cost-efficient way for over two decades. These funds will help us continue to do that,” said Nathan Champion, President of the Cimarron Valley Railroad. “We are thankful for the partnerships – both public and private – that have helped make these upgrades happen to ensure uninterrupted transportation of essential goods throughout local, national, and international markets.”

State legislators also attended the event.

“Upgrading the Cimarron Valley Railroad is essential to keeping our communities connected and their economies thriving,” said Representative David Younger. “Investing in our rural areas will improve rail operations, our economic competitiveness, and safety in the region and statewide. This is a great day for Southwest Kansas and our state as a whole.”

The upgrades are particularly beneficial to our agriculture communities: these funds will transform the line into an efficient agricultural thoroughfare that will connect Kansas to more markets. Freight is crucial to Kansas agricultural communities, and these upgrades ensure it remains one of the safest, most efficient modes of transportation at their disposal.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.


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