$3M road remodel for new Casselton soybean plant gets go-ahead
“The fall of 2024 will be a really exciting time out there with all the facilities up and running and all the new infrastructure out there,” said Cass County engineer Jason Benson.
FARGO — The plan to improve a rural roadway in Casselton, North Dakota, to allow access for the construction of a multi-million dollar soybean plant rolls onward as various government agencies pledge support.
The Cass County Commission has agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between itself, the Maple River Water Resource District and the North Dakota Soybean Processors, LLC (NDSP) regarding a $3 million road remodel to 36th Street during their meeting on Monday, March 6.
The agreement represents another step towards the required infrastructure needed to allow NDSP to construct a new processing plant and begin operations at a new location just outside Casselton.
The new $400 million North Dakota Soybean Processors plant is expected to crush 42.5 million bushels of soybeans in the first year.
“It's been a great working relationship and collaboration with NDSP,” said Cass County engineer Jason Benson, who presented the agreement to the commission for their approval and added his stamp of approval for the deal.
The agreement outlines each entity’s responsibilities regarding the changes to 36th Street, modifications to the Drain and NDSP’s planned Driveway Improvements.
NDSP finished reconstructing 36th Street in the fall of 2022 at their own expense, according to Benson. The gravel road, which is the primary road to access NDSP's plant site, was designed to be paved in the near future.
Cass County will improve the roadway and provide access over Drain 62, with the help of the Maple River Water Resource District. Improvements will provide sufficient access to the planned facility during its construction, Benson said. The benefits of that access will also extend into the plant’s future operations.
Cass County anticipates a new layer of concrete will be added and completed by the summer of 2024.
The county will pay up to $3 million for the design, engineering, installation, construction and other costs associated with the project, Benson said. Funding will come from the county’s coffers, state funding and potential federal funding and grant money to cover the costs, according to commission documents.
“Anything above that $3 million threshold (and) NDSP will be picking up those costs,” Benson said.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation had agreed to cover $1.5 million of the county’s $3 million, Benson said, and it’s possible that pending state legislation could see an influx of additional funding for agriculture-related infrastructure.
The project has been in the works for the last 18 months, Benson added.
Upon completion, Cass County will take over access, right-of-way control, utility control and general maintenance such as snow plowing, striping and signs. Any costs or expenses going forward will also be the county's responsibility, according to commission documents.
A stretch of roadway near the Tharaldson Ethanol plant just west of Casselton could also see infrastructure improvements, this time through the North Dakota Department of Transportation.
“The fall of 2024 will be a really exciting time out there with all the facilities up and running and all the new infrastructure out there,” Benson said.
Cass County is one of the top soybean producing counties in the country and the plant at Casselton is expected to draw soybeans from about a 60-mile radius, including into northwest Minnesota.
The plant is expected to provide 50-60 jobs and produce food-grade soybean oil and meal.