Archive for December 7th, 2010

by jhwygirl

This Kearl transport/oversized load issue is out of control. I wouldn’t believe it were real except that I read it in a newspaper:

Sheets of three-quarter-inch plywood will be laid in front of the tires of a load “should the shoulder show distress.”

Who knew plywood was so useful? Add some duct tape, and I bet they can cure the bridge problem too.

First it was just the tar sands modules…then it was some stuff for a Billings refinery…then it was more of both and now that U.S. taxpayer-funded dock in Lewistown Idaho that has undergone muliti-million dollar improvements over the last couple of years is stacked with modules and loaded trailers, waiting to haul these Korean-built behemoths.

Just wait until Arch Coal proposes to haul coal to Lewistown for shipping to China because they can’t condemn private property for a private railroad to haul the Otter Creek stuff to Wyoming.

And of course, this was only a few loads when we all first heard about it.

The Missoulian’s Kim Briggeman has been doing some great coverage on this issue and today’s story reports that the trailers will have to be disassembled to cross the Arrow bridge easy of Lewistown because they exceed the weight limit. A bridge that was refortified last year.

Montana Department of Transportation has been whittling away months “working with” Exxon to address the 1,000’s of issues brought up in public comment.

Will Montanan’s be seeing some plywood mitigation?

Will the plywood even be made in Montana?

Frankly, MDOT is just delaying the inevitable if they really are going to issue this permit. They’re going to get sued, regardless of the outcome of the Idaho side of things. Montana has MEPA, and we have our own constitutional issues. The failure to comply with adequate analysis given the magnitude of the issue – and this is not a load-by-load, permit-by-permit issue as MDOT would like us all to believe – is what is going to bite ’em.

Frankly, I don’t know why they don’t just hand this thing all back to the hands of the Feds. That’s where it belongs. It’s Federal highway dollars, federal roads, interstate and international commerce.

The idea that creating this over-land shipping land is going to create jobs at the expense of safety and recreation dollars is insulting. Seems to me the only jobs it’s going to be creating is the jobs needed to rebuilt the road and bridges once Korea’s exports destroy our roads.

Think about this – many of those jobs have already “been created” – as John S. Adams pointed out in his Great Falls Tribune article a couple of weeks back, most of the utility road relocation work has already occurred.

One area where the utility relocation has yet to occur is over the Lolo and Clearwater National Forests – as I mentioned previous in this post, the USFS has to complete a MEPA to issue that permit and whether it is to Missoula Electrical Cooperative or the Kearl Tar Sands or Exxon, there are connected actions that need to be analyzed. I’ve yet to see anything mentioning the Helena National – but isn’t Rodger’s Pass on the Helena?

So other than the flag-waving jobs…and the one-time only employment of moving utilities and building turnouts (most of which has already been done), what else do we have? The driving jobs are being done by specially trained drivers and teams? I guess some hotels and mote
ls and restaurants will get some additional business.

Hope they tip well.

by jhwygirl

Montana Women Vote has hosted a few meetings around the state designed towards opening up honest discussion regarding the state budget – soon to be the topic of discussion through at least April and Montana’s 62nd Legislative Session.

They are hosting another such meeting Wednesday from 11:30 to 12:30 at the Missoula Public Library on E. Main. The Montana Human Rights Network and the Montana Organizing Project are also hosting.

Montana’s state budget covers a wide spectrum of funding – from all-day kindergarten to grants for hunting programs and shooting ranges. Schools, Medicare, State Parks? What do you pick?

This meeting will help inform you on the state’s budget issues – how to stay informed, and how to have your voice heard. Montana’s government is amazing accessible – take advantage of this opportunity to learn just how easy it is to involve yourself.

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