Rail expansion leaves mark on Flint Hills

Multiyear project by BNSF Railway occurs on railroad's right-of-way and 19 parcels of land. BNSF says destruction is temporary.

By

State News

June 19, 2020 - 3:25 PM

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — More than a century after the arrival of the railroads to the Flint Hills of Kansas, a large-scale track expansion is tearing up a scenic stretch in some of the last remaining tallgrass prairie left in the nation.

The multiyear project by BNSF Railway to build a second main line of track in Kansas got little public attention until construction this year on a nearly 42-mile  stretch of track that the railroad is laying from Ellinor to El Dorado. Located south of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, the new line will run alongside much of Highway 177, a national scenic byway through the Flint Hills.

The work is occurring along the railroad’s right-of-way and 19 parcels of land it is acquiring, BNSF spokeswoman Amy Casas said in an email.

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