By Martin J. Kidston
Rumors suggesting that the Montana Department of Transportation may relocate its Havre shop to Shelby in the near future are not true, a departmental spokesman said Tuesday.
Spokesman for the MDT Dennis Unsworth, and MDT Administrator John Blacker, both fielded questions from the Havre Daily News pertaining to allegations that the MDT was going to close shop in Havre and relocate to Shelby. Both men said the allegations were false.
Because of the long nature of the Havre District, we already run a satellite shop in Shelby, Blacker said. But that site is currently inadequate, and were looking to develop a new site in Shelby to replace the current one. It will not replace the Havre site.
Blacker and Unsworth both said that the MDT would maintain a substantial presence in Havre, even when the Shelby site comes on line. And as the MDT takes over the maintenance of the states secondary road system, Blacker iterated the necessity of having two Hi-Line facilities to keep up with the increased workload.
With the inclusion of secondary roads, were not going to be able to handle that with one site, Blacker said. Were going to run two sites.
Unsworth explained that the new Shelby site is part of the departments long-range plans and must go through the legislature for approval. Consequently, a new Shelby site is far from reality at this point.
However, if and when the Shelby site comes on line, Unsworth and Blacker said a maintenance chief working the Hi-Line would have the option of which facility to work from. When asked if that option would detract from the Havre site, they were unable to answer for certain.
I dont know the full answer to that right now, Blacker said. We dont see that happening for a number of years.
Any decision like that is made very carefully, Unsworth said. There is no plan right now to move the Havre site. If it ever happened, there would still be a substantial presence in Havre.
To ensure that the MDT maintains that substantial presence, Sen. Greg Jergeson (D-Chinook), has asked for a promissory note from the MDT, ensuring the future of the Havre site, and with it, its strong job presence.
I have talked to the deputy director of the MDT, Jim Curry, and he assures me that there are no plans to downgrade the status of the facility or employees in Havre, Jergeson said. Ive asked him for a letter documenting what he told me over the phone. He said he would promise me in writing.
Jergeson said that he asked Curry if there were plans to move any of the Havre employees to Shelby, and Curry said no, there were no plans to do so.