Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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Banking woes send consumers looking for safer alternatives, some Indiana communities resist a dollar chain store "invasion," and a permit to build an oil pipeline tunnel under the Great Lakes is postponed.

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Republicans say it is premature to consider gun legislation after the Nashville shooting, federal officials are unsure it was a hate crime, and regulators say Silicon Valley Bank was aware of its financial risks.

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Finding childcare is a struggle everywhere, prompting North Carolina's Transylvania County to try a new approach. Maine is slowly building-out broadband access, but disagreements remain over whether local versus national companies should get the contracts, and specialty apps like "Farmers Dating" help those in small communities connect online.

Report Identifies Coal Train Traffic Challenges for MT

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Thursday, July 12, 2012   

BILLINGS, Mont. - The Powder River Basin has something Asia wants: coal. Plans to send coal overseas mean the coal will travel via trains to western ports. A first-of-its-kind analysis, funded by the Western Organization of Resource Councils, takes a look at some of the effects of increased train traffic, including associated costs.

Report co-author Terry Whiteside says the coal trains will compete with existing traffic for grain, timed deliveries and Amtrak; coal transport is expected to double the tons of freight on the tracks by 2022. He estimates the costs of upgrades to tracks and related infrastructure will reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

Whiteside is calling for everyone to get to the table for discussions.

"What has to happen, as we go forward, is the conversations need to start between all the affected parties. The more conversations that can occur, the more we're going to get to resolutions."

Traditionally, taxpayers foot the bill for additional overpasses, underpasses and other structures, Whiteside explains.

Report co-author Trey Fauth focused on exactly how the additional train traffic would be managed. He identified two "funnels" where almost every train will have to travel, he says.

"The line through Billings and the line from Sandpoint to Spokane will handle virtually all the coal trains. Clearly, to handle this projected traffic, significant infrastructure improvements will have to be made."

Those two sections are already near capacity, he warns.

Other concerns highlighted in the report include congestion of vehicle traffic, the possible delay of emergency vehicles, increased air pollution from coal dust and the trains themselves, and effects on property rights and land values.

The full report is available at www.HeavyTrafficAhead.org.




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