Now must raise $108,560
By TIM HORAN
The Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad received news to keep the trains rolling down the track for many years to come.
The 11-mile excursion train that starts at the depot in Old Abilene Town and goes to Enterprise during the vacation season, crosses the Smoky Hill River and that bridge was in need of repair.
Cost to fix the bridge was estimated at $543,250. The Dickinson County Commission announced at its regular meeting on Thursday that a federal grant through the Kansas Department of Transportation was approved to help pay for the bridge work.
“The grant will pay for 80 percent of that and we will have to pay 20 percent (or $108,560),” said Mary Jane Oard, general manager of the association that runs the train.
“Now we really have to get serious,” she added. “We’re going to do a capital campaign, basically,” she said. “We are hoping to get started.”
The county commission applied for the grant but is not supplying funds for the project. Oard said that the grant money also must be used by September 2014 or the funds will be lost.
In the meantime, the railroad is making its summer runs.
“We don’t plan to start the project until our last run in October,” Oard said. “It needs repaired. We keep an eye on it and it is checked every week and we’re still going across it.”