Written by The Wolf Point Herald
Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus announced Tuesday that Amtrak will study the possibility of adding an Amtrak stop in Culbertson.
Tester and Baucus requested the study to give oil workers another transportation option to get to the booming Bakken region.
Ongoing 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.