October 14, 2013

Manning city officials and area economic-development leaders have been crafting a plan to turn a little-used rail spur north of the city into loading depot - boosting existing business and possibly attracting more commercial enterprise to the area, said Manning Mayor Harvey Dales and Chad Schreck, executive director of the multi-county Midwest Partnership.

"I think there's a big opportunity there," Dales said.

The rail spur breaks off the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line, and has been used to store rail cars from time to time.

For about six months, local development officials have been looking at options to turn the spur into a loading facility.

"The trees to the south completely block it from any of the housing there," Schreck said. "There is also a decent amount of room along the track for a little development."

He said a loading depot with a dock or ramp could provide for important local access to the major railroad - which sends about three trains a week through on the line.

"Is it something that enough businesses need?" Schreck said.

Dales said elements of the plan are just beginning to take shape, such as what entities would be involved, who would have oversight, and how would the railroad work with any proposals.

"That's what we are trying to get determined," Dales said. "We see that it is a regional benefit."

Schreck envisions the rail project as a lift not only to southern Carroll County but Audubon County. He represents the latter through the Midwest Partnership, which covers Audubon, Greene, Guthrie and Adair counties.

The spur dates back to a former stockyard in Manning, Dales said.