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Bewley: Northern Rails And Roads Important To The Economy

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A northern Wisconsin legislator says the debate over the state Transportation budget puts a focus on some recent decisions and getting wood products to market from the Northwoods.

State Senator Janet Bewley, whose district includes parts of Vilas, Iron and Price counties, attended the Northwoods Rail Transit Commission meeting in Rhinelander Friday. The Commission has been working to find ways to get the forest products industry, and other businesses, to use more rail with a fear that freight rail service in northern Wisconsin and the U.P. could be gone.

Bewley says rail has to be a part of the mix, using a recent governmental agreement as a backdrop....

".....for example, the Good Neighbor Agreement with the Forest Service. We've got to be sure that we do everything. We can't just have the Good Neighbor Agreement and not have a way to get the logs out of the woods and where they need to go. All of the things, policy, money and political will have to come together for the good of the north...."

The Good Neighbor Authority allows for more logging in the national forest, but Bewley wonders how that extra wood is going to get to market without damaging roads even more.

Canadian National is the freight hauler in the Northwoods.The Commission has been looking to get a federal grant which would provide new rail cars for Canadian National to use, primarily hauling timber products.

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