Monday, November 12, 2012

Miles City Star OpEd - "Can't You Hear the Whistle Blowing?"

November 9, 2012

Marla Prell, Editor
Miles City Star
818 Main St.
Miles City, MT. 59301

Tongue River Railroad Requires Flood Threat Study

Beyond bisecting pastures and irrigated farms from Otter Creek to Miles City, all of the routes proposed by the Tongue River Railroad (TRR) slice the floodplain of the valley in half, likely raising the threat of flooding against all property owners along the river and in Miles City. Remember the lakes that formed from the storm flooding of May, 2011? Now imagine how the rising and northbound channeling of those floodwaters would impact properties along an elevated south/north railbed up to and including Miles City.

Truth is, we have no idea what those impacts would be because the last Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared for the TRR failed to include a thorough and current flood risk assessment of the proposed routes. At the very least, a new flood risk study of both the valley and Miles City is required as part of the mandatory Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before a railroad should ever permitted by the Surface Transportation Board (STB).

Two scoping hearings for the latest permit application by the TRR are scheduled for this Thursday between 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 619 Pleasant St. in Miles City.

These scoping hearings are our chance to meet with STB and other state agency staff to discuss all elements of the proposed TRR, prior to more formal proceedings. If you value your property and safety, attend one of these hearings and make a formal public comment for the record that demands a thorough flood risk assessment of all proposed TRR routes as part of the EIS before further consideration of this latest permit application by the Surface Transportation Board.


Joe R. Whalen
Miles City

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