Falsehood and fiction. Both of these factors were driving forces at work during the recent Missoula City Council meeting when a resolution was passed in regards to oversized shipments passing through Missoula. It was a misguided attempt at politics as usual, making the Kearl shipping project's jobs and growth political pawns. It's difficult for me to comprehend the prevalent misunderstanding of this project when the facts are straightforward.
First of all, the Kearl project will not cost local residents a dime. The corporations leading the project have already seen to that by posting a bond, which will cover any damages or liability brought about by the shipments. The false notion that the project would incur damages to Missoula and leave the bill for people in our community motivated the city council still to pass a resolution, double charging truck shipments. In doing so, Missoula has threatened the many industries in our state that rely on oversized shipping everyday to move their goods.
Furthermore, opponents have centered their arguments on falsehoods about the safety of the shipments. Truth be told, no hazardous materials or chemicals will even be transported, just equipment. And for the last two years, planning has been in progress to identify the safest, most appropriate route for moving this machinery, while providing the least disruption to the community and the environment. To do this, state police will escort the shipments at all times, making sure that the trucks pull over every fifteen minutes to let cars pass.
Another falsehood is that these shipments are "mega loads." Yet, they are under the legal weight restrictions required by the state, so our roads will have no trouble handling the loads. The reality is the shipments are very similar to a mobile home or other oversize load that would be transported according to the same rules—but the accompanying investment in infrastructure and safety is unique.
Currently, Montana's economy is stalled and in need of an investment like the Kearl project to generate jobs and economic growth. The $67 million in economic activity that the project would bring to Montana is very real. Unfortunately the opposition to these valuable shipments remains grounded in myths.