Lawmaker asks AG for opinion on rail bridge ownership

April 18, 2022 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Democratic lawmaker from Bismarck is asking Attorney General Drew Wrigley to determine whether the state owns a railroad bridge.

The Bismarck Tribune reported Sen. Tracy Potter requested an opinion from the attorney general’s office on Monday on who owns the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge. The 139-year-old bridge spans the Missouri River.

Nonprofit group Friends of the Rail Bridge wants to stop BNSF Railway from demolishing the bridge to clear the way for a new one. The group and the railroad signed a deal early last yearwith the U.S. Coast Guard outlining paths to keeping or removing the bridge. The Coast Guard decides on projects along that section of the river.

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The preservation group says a state ownership determination would help its cause but the attorney general’s office has thus far refused to get involved. Potter said he believes the State Historical Society is bound by law to determine the bridge’s ownership.

The attorney general is reviewing Potter’s request, spokeswoman Liz Brocker said.