2nd Montana County Signs Onto Agency

County commissioners in Missoula, Montana, have approved a resolution to form the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority.

Earlier this week commissioners of Gallatin County also approved the resolution.

The approval of two counties of a resolution is needed under state law for the agency to become official.

The authority plans to work to restore Amtrak service to southern Montana.

The region last had intercity rail passenger service in early October 1979 when Amtrak’s Chicago-Seattle North Coast Hiawatha was discontinued.

The drive to create the authority was initiated a year ago by Missoula County.

Among the cities that are on the proposed route are Billings, Bozeman and Missoula.

The authority will also explore operating the train through Helena.

Officials say as many as 10 additional counties might join the authority, which plans to hold a “rail summit” in Missoula in September to work out details about how the authority will be set up.

Montana’s only intercity rail service is Amtrak’s Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder, which operates across the northern tier of the state.

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