BNSF Railway Co. said it plans to spend an estimated $202 million on maintenance and rail capacity improvement and expansion projects in Nebraska this year, including an expansion of its locomotive shop in Lincoln and improvements to the Havelock car repair shops.

BNSF's 2012 capital commitment program of about $3.9 billion for the entire network is the largest single-year investment BNSF has made, spokesman Andy Williams said. "We have not released state specific data for a number of years, but this year's commitment in Nebraska is substantial." 

BNSF said it spent $300 million last year cleaning up the damage from the Missouri River flood, but that money was spread from Montana to Missouri.  Last year, Union Pacific spent $224 million on capital projects in Nebraska, according to its website.

Details of each project were not available. BNSF's 2012 plan in Nebraska also includes adding a second mainline track in the Grand Island area and beginning work to replace BNSF's bridge over the Missouri River between Plattsmouth and Pacific Junction, Iowa, as well as signal upgrades for a federally ordered electronic safety system known as positive train control. 

BNSF said it also will continue its "robust" track maintenance program in Nebraska, which will include 1,405 miles of track surfacing and undercutting -- adjusting and leveling track, introducing banking on curves and reconditioning the railroad bed. Additional plans are to replace 100 miles of rail and about 140,000 ties.

"BNSF's investments will improve our ability to provide rail freight services to Nebraska businesses and communities and will expand opportunities to create more jobs and growth for the Nebraska economy," Matthew K. Rose, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a news release.

The largest component of the $3.9 billion capital plan is spending $2.1 billion on BNSF's rail network and related assets. BNSF also plans to spend about $1.1 billion on locomotive, freight car and other equipment acquisitions, some of which will serve Nebraska.

BNSF employs about 4,500 people in Nebraska, including 1,700 in the Lincoln area, more than 1,400 in Alliance and about 100 in Omaha.

U.S. Department of Commerce economic models show every dollar invested in freight railroads yields $3 in economic output, the railroad said. Additionally, according to the Association of American Railroads, every freight rail job supports another 4.5 jobs somewhere else in the economy.


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