Rail lines choked with oil instead of grain is not news around here, but as farmers gear up for a second harvest without adequate rail service, the New York Times has taken notice.
Remember Lac-Mégantic. Ron Schalow does. He’s petitioning the state to finally do something about explosive Bakken crude.
I know a lot of North Dakotans aren’t exactly jazzed about our well-to-do Canadian neighbours, who still have a middle class and the spending money to overwork our underpaid retailers. Fewer still must pay any attention at all to the distant province of Québec, but North Dakota has an important connection with them:
We killed 57 Québecois with our oil. We are guilty of negligent mass homicide.
We killed them because we failed to do anything about natural gas flaring. We killed them because we failed to build pipelines. We killed them because we failed to regulate our oil development, to keep it within the bounds of our infrastructure, to keep oil development focused on the public interest and public safety.
Trains will soon be barrelling through the smallest major city in North Dakota at nearly 100 km/h — faster than cars on Highway 2. BNSF Railway has had numerous problems dealing with flooding in the Minnewaukan Basin and seems keen to shave off the constant delays with a 2-km stretch of track in Devils Lake.
Coming soon to Fargo: 10 docking stations for transitized bicycles, courtesy of a public-private partnership group. It seems the system is heavily modelled on bixi-based systems like Twin Cities Nice Ride; among other things, Fargo’s tiny network also feels it needs to charge $6 a day, $30 a month, or $75 a year. Perhaps in the future the cities of West/Fargo/Moorhead could chip in a bit to make it more affordable.
As the program has been launched mainly with NDSU student government dollars, students will bike free; no word yet on whether MSUM or Concordia students are out in the cold, but visiting UND students will clearly have to pony up like regular schlubs.
In other pedestrian policy news, Grand Forks is finally paving a sidewalk alongside 2 km of South 42nd Street that have needed it for a long time, and Minneapolis is expanding parking availability for independent bike owners.
Winnipeggers will see a huge extra investment in the Southwest Transitway project, with nearly $600 million to be spent extending dedicated busways from the current terminus at Jubilee and Pembina Highway, all the way down to the University of Manitoba. Rapid Transit advocates have been in a pitched tug-of-war over the issue, and Winnipeg’s mayoral race recently heated up with incumbent Sam Katz stepping down, and Transit booster Judy Wasylycia-Leis is leading the pack to replace him.
Manitoba has an abundance of clean hydroelectric power, which was historically used to power a fleet of street trolleys in Winnipeg, powered from a tangle of overhead lines. Today, wire-free operation is possible with battery packs and rapid-charging stations that can cut charging stops to just 7% of operating time.
The winter-proven prototype will soon be joined by three more test models. Hopefully, the improved design will form the majority of the fleet someday soon!