What’s happening on the Eastside Highway right now is lunacy.
It’s not as though the highway was in disrepair. It’s actually in great shape. One can easily drive the speed limit and then some, even if you do happen to get stuck behind the occasional tractor or bale wagon.
So why exactly is the DOT putting all this energy into improving a perfectly good road? Because it’s what they’re familiar with, and they can’t imagine an alternative: that the era of the automobile is over, and it’s time to stop building roads.
Instead, let’s establish an electric rail line between Missoula and Darby.
We live in an energy rich place. Despite the fact that we have the second-highest per capita energy consumption of any state, Montana is a net exporter of electricity (source: EIA). It stands to reason that our transportation sector should be electrified.
But electric cars and more pavement aren’t going to cut it. Rail is a much more efficient method of moving freight or people, and no more costly. In other words, any new road built in Montana needs to be a railroad.
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It’s a much better investment than widening the shoulders of the Eastside Highway.
— Cobey Williamson