The Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District is working to find funding for a major railroad upgrade project.

Patricia Hargrove with SAED said Monday that the district is currently seeking grant funds to upgrade the 90 miles of railroad track that runs from McGehee to Tallulah, La.

Hargrove said upgrading the track will not only help the businesses that already use the rail service, but could also attract new ones to the area.

The SAED hopes to upgrade the track with higher quality rail that will allow the trains to travel at a higher rate of speed. Hargrove said the upgrade will open the area up to businesses that can’t use the current track.

“When they are carrying agricultural projects they can travel at a lower rate of speed, but those transporting chemicals have to travel at a faster rate,” Hargrove said. “We want to attract businesses to the area and we don’t want to limit ourselves.”

The track needs total renovation and the ports along the track need renovation as well.

Hargrove said that $6 million has already been invested in the project and the project is going to cost somewhere in the ballpark of $45 million. The SEAD team is working to submit a federal grant application for twenty million dollars.

Hargrove said if the SAED is awarded the grant, it will be huge for the now 10-year-old project.

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