HF 1127–Boon for Quarries, Bad for Communities

A new bill came sailing into my inbox a couple of days ago that is a boon for L.G. Everist, but bad for two of the communities in which they operate.

Authored by District 12A Rep. Jay McNamar, HF 1127 provides for double semi trailer-loads of rock coming out of Everist’s Ortonville and Jasper, MN facilities to be transported on highways from those operations via the shortest route to South Dakota highways, where double semi trailers are currently legal.

Double semi-trailers are not currently legal on highways in Minnesota, but this isn’t the only way in which this bill sets bad precedent.

The route proposed from the Everist quarry in Ortonville Township would take loaded double semi trailers of rock up US Highway 75 to the junction of US Highway 12, with a left hand turn at one of the busiest (and most accident-prone) intersections in the county, then down the hill on US Highway 12 into Ortonville, with another left hand turn at a busy, uncontrolled intersection onto the section of US 12 that crosses the Minnesota River into Big Stone City, SD.

(May I also mention the bad precedent of a DFL’er authoring a bill that solely benefits a single corporation, with no thought to its adverse and potentially lethal impacts to the community it affects?)

As the new state representative of the district that includes Big Stone County, perhaps McNamar could be forgiven for mistakenly believing he was doing something positive for the Ortonville community.

However, McNamar made no mention of this bill at the recent cracker barrel in Ortonville nor in this week’s column in local papers, so it comes as quite a surprise to McNamar’s local constituents–especially those in Ortonville Township, who’ve struggled so long and hard to defend their quality of life in spite of unresponsive and occasionally hostile local government.

McNamar’s (Everist’s?) bill currently resides in the Transportation Policy Committee. I strongly urge you to contact members of the committee and tell them to kill this bad bill before someone else gets killed at these already dangerous intersections.

And make sure to contact Representative Jay McNamar (pronounced Mc-NAME-ur), too, and let him know that while we in Big Stone County value our local businesses, we also value our people. And good legislation needs to balance the best interests of both.

[Addition: This bill would also presumably help Strata Corp, with their proposed quarry site along that same stretch of the Upper Minnesota River. Strata is currently sourcing rock from L.G. Everist’s Ortonville Township quarry while they await word from the State of Minnesota about their quarry site’s annexation by the City of Ortonville. Strata officials told the county during CUP hearings that they’d put their rock on rail cars, but it seems likely that if this bill goes through, the US 75 to US 12 route would be blasted wide open to increasingly heavy quarry truck traffic.]