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Opinion: Heartland deserves funding

Cheers to the local residents who met the House bonding committee Thursday to make their pitch for extending the Heartland Trail from Frazee to Detroit Lakes.

The 10-mile stretch of multiuse trail would be just one segment of trail to eventually extend to Park Rapids and beyond.

The locals are seeking $3.1 million in state bonding money to build the trail next year, and to begin the design phase for the Moorhead to Hawley stretch of Heartland Trail.

That section, too, will eventually make it all the way to Detroit Lakes — giving the area access to Fargo-Moorhead and its population of more than 200,000 people.

We hope legislators who represent this area, regardless of party, get behind the project and support this effort.

Several million dollars have already been spent on design, engineering, land acquisition, and construction work for an underpass on Highway 10 east, as well as trail sections that have already been built in Detroit Lakes.

The Heartland Trail, when completed all the way from Moorhead to Park Rapids, via Detroit Lakes and Frazee, will have a very positive economic impact on the area.

It will fit in nicely with the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, and will bring in people year-round, since it will be a multiuse trail.

Here’s to all the hard work that has already gone into the project, and to hoping the Legislature approves the request when it convenes next year.

Jeers to whoever mislabeled the tanker cars that crashed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, on July 6 — setting off a fiery blast that killed 47 people in a town a little smaller than Detroit Lakes.

The oil carried on railcars that derailed and exploded was a more flammable liquid than its shippers indicated, Canadian transport investigators said recently, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said its tests showed the oil had a much lower flash point —the temperature at which a fire can ignite —than originally indicated on tank-car signage, and was more dangerous than identified on the railcars that plowed into Lac-Mégantic.

The announcement answers one mystery: How did crude oil, which typically has a high flash point, ignite and explode as it did in Quebec?

But it’s still not clear what the exact contents of the cars were. Canadian investigators will continue to test the samples from 11 suppliers they found in the Bakken region of North Dakota, where the fuel that exploded in Quebec originated.

According to the Wall Street Journal, investigators said those who supplied and handled the cargo had offered “contradictory” details about the fuel’s hazard levels.

Dangerous fluids are measured on a scale of 1 to 3, with level 1 being most hazardous. The TSBC said the fuel should have been identified as level 2. The trucks that first moved the oil from Bakken to a rail-loading facility in North Dakota had documents that indicated level 2, but the rail cars that took the cargo on to Lac-Mégantic had identified it as level 3.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration should fast-track a proposal that tank cars have better puncture-resistance systems and other safety measures.