Have you ever heard of Otter Creek? If not, you may want to know what is happening in eastern Montana and how it will impact those of us who live near railroad tracks in different communities across the state.
Otter Creek is one of many projects that is part of a scheme by coal companies to export Montana and Wyoming coal to Asia. If these projects come to fruition, we can expect train traffic through Montana to increase substantially—imagine at least a doubling of trains each day. This should concern all of us. I live on the Northern Pacific in Belgrade and literally from my front door to the outside railroad tie it is only 280 feet. The average rail car is about 65 feet. If there was a derailment, it is a real possibility that I could have a rail car in my living room.
The tracks cut my town in two. I live on one side of the tracks and the police, fire station, post office, and schools are located on the other side. The potential length of the coal trains could exceed one mile. The current wait for trains is eight to 10 minutes with approximately 18 trains per day. With the increase in coal trains, individuals and businesses could potentially waste several hours a day waiting to cross the tracks.
My sleep is interrupted by the train horns on a regular basis and I can't leave my windows open in the summer because of the noise. In Billings, the city paid $1.47 million for a quiet zone around the hospitals. The taxpayers paid for this.
Get informed and speak out, this is going to affect you. More information can be obtained by going to www.northernplains.org.