LETTER: Rail park will mean brighter future for area

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The Glacier Rail Park will benefit the citizens of Northwest Montana, strengthen the economy, and implement safety improvements. As a Flathead Valley farmer, I know the Glacier Rail Park means a brighter future. Our industry’s success relies on a vibrant and efficient rail system. Developing an industrial rail park on the edge of city limits, that accommodates CHS and other rail-served businesses, is critical to our local agricultural trade.

Originally, the CHS grain elevator sat on the perimeter of Kalispell. Kalispell has grown significantly since that time. Now, heavily used streets, homes, and retail establishments surround the grain elevator. Currently, 2,500 farm trucks each year must navigate narrow roads and increasing traffic to reach CHS’s downtown grain elevator. During the harvest season this is compounded; trucks are often backed up four to five blocks from the elevator.

This dangerous dynamic is responsible for multiple accidents each year. If left unchecked, it may force local farmers to seek other, more costly transportation options. I am aware of one farmer who has grain professionally hauled 320 miles rather than risk the liability of driving downtown. For this farmer, the expense is manageable. For others, increased shipping costs may be devastating.

Fortunately, there is a solution. The Glacier Rail Park enables CHS to move its grain elevator to a logical setting that is safe for everyone. The CHS fertilizer facility, which battles similar traffic challenges, will also relocate to the Glacier Rail Park. Equally important, the Glacier Rail Park ensures that in coming years, shipping is affordable for the Flathead Valley farming community.

The Glacier Rail Park is a win-win for the future of Kalispell — stronger industry, a friendlier downtown and safer streets for everyone. —Bruce Tutvedt, Kalispell Republican, Montana Senate District 3

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