- Written by The Herald-News
BNSF announced Jan. 19 that their 2017 capitol expenditure plan will be about $3.4 billion. This includes $100 million to be invested in their Montana railway system.
This is slightly down from 2016’s $3.9 billion expenditure plan, but is similar in that its largest component is to replace and maintain BNSF’s core network and assets.
In 2017, BNSF approximates that $2.4 billion will be used for this large component of the plan; this includes projects such as replacing and upgrading rails, rail ties and ballast. It will also go towards maintaining BNSF’s rolling stock of locomotives.
This plan includes maintaining approximately 20,000 miles of track and replacement of about 600 miles of rail and three million rail ties.
BNSF has approximately 1,939 miles of track in Montana including a long stretch along U.S. Hwy. 2.
BNSF also plans to spend $400 million for expansion projects, $100 million for the implementation of positive train control and $400 million for locomotives, freight cars and other equipment acquisitions.
BNSF president and chief executive officer Carl Ice said, “Each year, we establish a capital plan that reflects the future needs of our customers and the constant need to keep our infrastructure in good working condition. This year’s capital plan ensures we continue to operate a safe and reliable rail network while capturing the new opportunities our customers will present to us.”
He continued, “Our ongoing investments, along with the outstanding efforts of our employees, resulted in the lowest number of derailments in company history last year. The strength and condition of our railroad today gives us the confidence that we will operate safely in the communities we serve and meet our customers’ expectations of reliable and consistent service.”
- Written by Tyler Manning
According to documents released by the United States District Court of Montana, the REAL ID act will not restrict Montanans from entering federal courthouses, such as the one in Great Falls.
The concern was brought up when Montana continued to combat REAL ID and was denied a third extension in November. Because Montana will not comply with REAL ID, the federal government will no longer allow Montana drivers licenses to be accepted when entering nuclear plants, military bases or federal buildings starting Jan. 30.
This raised the question about what individuals without a passport, or other form of compliant REAL ID, would do when summoned for jury duty. However, an exception will be made when concerning Montana. Standard screening to enter the courthouse will continue and Montana drivers licenses will be accepted to enter federal courthouse buildings.
Senators Daines and Tester have both been vocally opposed to REAL ID since its initial passing. Both voiced concern over citizens privacy and a database of individuals who hold REAL ID compliant documents.
Recently the senators filed for emergency waver as to not have Montanans lives disrupted by the act. In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security the senators wrote, “A vendor in Great Falls will no longer be able to access Malmstrom Air Force Base to drop off their deliveries without additional identification. Further, some veterans seeking care could face difficulties in entering a base to see their doctor.”
Tester and Daines continued, “The passport application fee is $110 for someone over the age of 16 and $80 for a child. Moreover, it can take up to six weeks to receive a passport after completing an application. This extended wait can be a significant obstacle to families in cases of emergencies that require air travel.”
The next step for the senators is a bipartisan legislation to fully repeal the REAL ID act. No hearing has been scheduled yet.
In January 2018, Montanans wont even be able to get on a commercial aircraft with their drivers licenses.