Commissioners seek comments on road closure
By Alan Sorensen
Hill County Commissioners are taking public comment on a request to close 22nd Avenue North at the east Havre railroad crossing. The closings would occur a couple of times a month for an extended period of time.
The county road serves the east end of North Havre between the railroad tracks and the Milk River. It is the primary route a trailer court near the old landfill, but residents also have access to the frontage road that leads west to the viaduct.
An open meeting for public comment will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, May 7, at the Hill County Courthouse Annex meeting room. Area residents are encouraged to attend the comment meeting and making their thoughts and opinions about the temporary closures known.
"The request is for the purpose of loading unit grain trains between the two elevators," Hill County Commissioner Pat Conway said. "They can load 110 cars in one train. The reason they need to close this crossing is obviously because they need that much track."
Conway said that he was assured by operators of the two elevators ADM and Cenex Harvest States that the crossing would be closed fewer than 20 times a year.
Pete Vander Ven, general manager of the Havre elevators, said that the crossing should be closed to vehicle traffic for no more than 24 hours each time.
"We assume, at this point, that it would be no more than 20 times a year," Vander Ven said. "We figure 20 to 24 hours (each time). It's kind of fluid number."
Vander Ven said the request to the commission was for about 20 hours each time. While most of that time would be taken up by loading grain, a few extra hours were added to the request to account for the time it takes the railroad to set up and move the train out.
Because the train will be blocking the road for extended periods each time, much of the time will be during low-traffic hours.
"We asked for about 20 (hours)," Vander Ven said. "Part of that will be weekends, part of that will be night, because those trains will come anytime in that 24-hour window. A lot of it will be at night and will minimally affect anyone, if at all."
The effort to bring a high-speed shuttle loading facility to is expected to bring a lot of business to Havre. One bonus, according to spokesman with Archer Daniels Midland, the parent company for the venture, is that an estimated $1.5 million will be spent to lay new rail between the two elevators. Both elevator facilities will be upgraded, too.