It’s a mess – the BNSF derailment at Bonners Ferry, Idaho on Friday means that not just BNSF isn’t moving, but Amtrak can’t get through either. But maybe Amtrak will be getting through soon.

Amtrak is twitting about it:

Empire Builder Train 8/28 which departed from Seattle (SEA)/Portland (PDX) on 1/3 is currently stopped at (WTN) due to earlier vehicle on the tracks and track work. We will update when more information is available.

Empire Builder Train 7/27 which departed Chicago (CHI) on 1/2 is currently operating approximately 11 hours 40 minutes late due to holding for the bus bridge into Spokane (SPK).

From the local press:

BNSF line is back open (published 4p 1/4/2020)

Derailment appears to have been caused by rock slide

County issues Kootenai River water quality advisory

County update on derailment cleanup

DEEP BREATHE EVERYONE. This project hasn’t got a chance in hell!

Received a response from the DNR, and bottom line on the Empire Builder Investments/Progressive Rail project to draw water in Dakota County is:

Kinda says it all, don’t cha think?!?!

Here are the primary documents sent by the DNR, the quote above is from the Preliminary Assessment:

And the DNR Commissioner’s statement:

The DOT says it wants to hear from us, so let’s not disappoint:

Take this short 10 minute survey

There have been a number of issues I’ve worked on that the DOT’s been involved in, particularly transmission and silica sand transport, and a noteworthy project here that thankfully did not go forward was Zip Rail.  These days, we’ve also got the Hwy. 63 bridge over the Mississippi River, and construction has started. The night view of what they’re building:

They’re also working on a 2nd passenger rail train to and from Chicago, which would directly serve Red Wing!  YES!

Let the DOT know what’s important to you, those little things like BRIDGE REPAIR, and maintenance.  Road work must be done, and now we’ve got the budget to get to the many things that were neglected during the Pawlenty era.  Expect delays, that’s the price we have to pay!

RE: PURPOSE AND NEED MEETINGS — CORRECTION FROM DOT:

CORRECTION: Purpose and Need Statement now available for proposed Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Service


Our mistake! We gave you the wrong public information meeting dates in yesterday’s update. Wisconsin’s meeting is actually first. Correct dates are:

  • Sept. 6 at the La Crosse County Administrative Center in Wisconsin
  • Sept. 7 at St. Paul’s Union Depot 

We wouldn’t want you to miss these important public meetings. Sorry for the confusion.

===============================

There’s been a lot of bruhaha here about the “Zip Rail,” but that’s now “Zip” since the DOT suspended “work” on that project.  What’s new is that there’s a specific initiative by the DOT now for adding a 2nd daily passenger train to and from the Twin Cities to Chicago, serving multiple points in between.  THIS IS NOT A HIGH SPEED RAIL PROPOSAL, it’s adding another passenger train on the eastern end of the Empire Builder route.

Here’s Amtrak’s 2015 feasibility report (PDF) 

And the reports this rail group has generated with DOT:

Meetings seem to be held monthly, but there’s no notice of when the next meeting is on the e“meetings” page, and there are no details of the meetings, agenda, minutes, presentations, etc.   See future forum meetings.  HA!  They’re missing PAST meeting!

Look at the “Public Engagement” and tell me if you see anything about the public, and look at “Membership/Members” and tell me if you see anything other than corporations, governmental and lobbying organizations — WHERE’S THE PUBLIC?

Here’s the “Put Me On The List” link, copied from their page: contact the MnDOT Project Managers or Mary McFarland, MnDOT Communications.

Have at it, and keep an eye out for a Fall 2017 public meeting where the Purpose and Need Statement – July 2017 (PDF) will be presented and discussed (it does not note a formal comment period).

There’s been a flurry of activity, and finally they posted the actual documents so we can see what’s going on, or what won’t be going on.  This was part of my “One a Day” plan to send off a missive to the White House every day, something of substance.  When the Contact page was blank on Monday morning, I started calling, ALL DAY LONG, and got through around 7 p.m., when a human answered, and hung up.  I called back, got that same human, who wouldn’t tell me who I should talk to about the Executive Orders (presumed that’s what they were as that’s what was said) and said the Comment office person was gone so I had to leave it online, and she got pissy when I said that the Comment page was blank, and hung up again.  OK, whatever…

Civics Lesson from USA Today, Presidential memoranda vs. executive orders. What’s the difference?

Here are the Memoranda thus far from the White House page (these are not required to be published in the Federal Register, so ???, but they are now on the White House Memoranda page:

Now maybe they’ll have the routine down and keep up with what they’re doing.  Drives me crazy to be loating around in the dark — it’s hard enough to know or guess what these might mean in practice, but without an actual document to look at, it’s just blather.  Well, it’s just blather anyway, but here it is.  Read it and get busy!