Construction of a rail-shuttle complex to handle grain and fertilizer shipments near Syracuse started about three weeks ago, a spokesman for Midwest Farmers Cooperative said Monday.
"We will be able to load 110 cars in less than 15 hours," said Austin Benes, marketing manager for the Elmwood-based co-op. "That's very fast."
A ground-breaking ceremony for the project was set for Tuesday morning.
Representatives from the Omaha Public Power District and Union Pacific Railroad are scheduled to attend, along with state Sen. Dan Watermeier and representatives for U.S. Senators Deb Fischer and Sen. Ben Sasse.
The complex, which will feature a 2-mile loop of track, is being built about 1.5 miles southeast of Syracuse on the Arbor Rail Line that is owned by OPPD and served by Union Pacific. OPPD uses the line primarily for deliveries of coal to its Nebraska City plant.
"It's in the middle of our trade area. This particular part of the state has been underserved as far as grain terminals," Benes said, adding that the co-op has 26 retail locations in Southeast Nebraska.
The co-op isn't releasing the total cost of the project until after the groundbreaking.
The complex will allow the co-op to gain access to grain markets outside of the local truck markets that are currently available. It will eventually be expanded to receive fertilizer in trainload quantities as well.
"This facility will be the largest single construction project undertaken by Midwest Farmers Cooperative in our efforts to support our patron base of over 4,100 farmer owners," the co-op said in a news release.
Benes said the co-op has not decided on how many people will be employed at the complex when it is in operation by October 2016.
"There will be jobs," he said.
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