Posted: May 18, 2012 8:33 AM by Dennis Bragg (KPAX/KAJ Media Center)
Updated: May 21, 2012 11:12 AM
STEVENSVILLE- The trains will return to the Bitterroot Valley this weekend as Montana Rail Link is restarting its Bitterroot branch line.
The line, which has been out of service for about a year, is going back into operation after months of work and negotiations between MRL, local government leaders and the Ravalli County businesses who can use the line for shipping products.
Funding for the new business comes from commitments with the businesses, plus several thousand dollars in matching funds from the county and the cities of Stevensville and Hamilton.
Crews spent the past several weeks repairing the line and MRL spokeswoman Linda Frost says the first train is set to roll Saturday.
Frost says that train will consist of nine or 10 railcars with most going to Selway Manufacturing in Stevensville and one car heading to Lakeland Feeds in Victor.
She says future shipments will be on an "as needed" basis but trains are expecting to run through the valley about "two-to-three" times per month for the rest of the year.
Because there's no fixed schedule, MRL is reminding Bitterroot residents to be sure that they use extra caution again at crossings throughout the valley between Hamilton and Missoula.