Tester, Baucus: Amtrak to study possible new stop in Culbertson
Senators called for study to help workers get to the Bakken
(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus today announced that Amtrak will study the possibility of adding an Amtrak stop in Culbertson, Mont.
Tester and Baucus requested the study to give oil workers another transportation option to get to the booming Bakken region.
On-going energy development in the Bakken formation is leading to extraordinary economic growth in northeastern Montana that is providing thousands of high-paying jobs. Those jobs are drawing workers from around Montana – particularly from northwestern Montana – but many workers face difficulties getting from one side of the state to the other.
Pursuing new ways to help workers get to the Bakken continues Baucus’ “Call to Action in the Bakken” that aims to increase critical infrastructure necessary to support the region’s growth.
“With the flood of new workers, the demand to construct new infrastructure and to improve existing infrastructure is constantly increasing,” Tester and Baucus wrote. “The Empire Builder plays a critical role in fulfilling the growing transportation infrastructure needs of the Bakken region, and as the region continues to grow, it is important to look for smart ways to increase the Empire Builder’s capabilities.”
Culbertson Mayor Gordon Oelkers said he appreciates the Senators’ attention to the Bakken.
“Thanks to the oil boom around us, Culbertson is the ideal spot for a new Amtrak stop,” Oelkers said. “We are right in the middle of major eastern Montana transportation routes and we have the existing facility to make adding the stop a viable option for Amtrak. I appreciate Jon and Max for constantly looking for ways to help eastern Montana.”
Tester and Baucus previously teamed up to urge Amtrak to increase passenger capacity on the Empire Builder to help the energy-impacted communities take full advantage of the Bakken’s oil and gas boom.
READ: Max’s letter to President Obama: “Call to Action in the Bakken” online HERE.
READ: What Montanans are saying about Baucus’ call for an “all hands on deck” approach to economic development in the Bakken and read more online HERE.
Text of the Senators’ letter to Amtrak is below.
Rob Eaton, Director of Government Affairs – West
530 Water Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Dear Rob: We write to request an Amtrak study on the feasibility of adding a passenger stop on the Empire Builder in Culbertson, Montana. On-going energy development in the Bakken formation is leading to extraordinary growth in Northeastern Montana. Oil and gas development in this region is luring thousands of workers to fill the high paying jobs that are fueling our economic recovery. With the flood of new workers, the demand to construct new infrastructure and to improve existing infrastructure is constantly increasing. The Empire Builder plays a critical role in fulfilling the growing transportation infrastructure needs of the Bakken region, and as the region continues to grow, it is important to look for smart ways to increase the Empire Builder’s capabilities.
Culbertson is 54 miles from the Empire Builder’s nearest stop to the west, Wolf Point, and 43 miles from the Empire Builder’s nearest stop to the east, Williston, North Dakota. The lengthy distances from the nearest Amtrak stations leave the Culbertson area relatively isolated despite its rapidly increasing population. In fact, a study released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week showed a 4.8 percent increase in population in 2011 and a 3.6 percent increase in population in 2012 for Roosevelt County. Culbertson is in the eastern half of Roosevelt County, which is among the fastest growing counties in Montana.
The demand for services in the region is growing. Individuals are moving to the Culbertson area for accommodations and to commute to the oil fields. Housing is being built as quickly as possible in Culbertson. A new housing subdivision with 140 lots, an extended stay motel, two 4-plexs, and two motels are all under construction. A stop in Culbertson would allow workers to settle where housing exists and to make the commute to Williston, the epicenter of the oil boom. We appreciate your attention to this matter, and look forward to working with you on expanding transportation opportunities in the Bakken region.
Jon Tester and Max Baucus