Letter To The Editor
December 8, 2021
This past month has seen passage of one of the largest investments in American infrastructure in the nation’s history. Few states benefit more from this Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill than Montana. This is largely due to the work of our very own Senator Jon Tester, who was a leading architect of the bill. Due to Senator Tester’s work, Montana, and especially the Hi-Line, receives long overdue investments in the infrastructure that supports our way of life.
Possibly most critical to our area is the funding the bill includes for the St. Mary Diversion Milk River Rehabilitation Project. For the people that call the Hi-Line home, the Milk River is our lifeline. Without a consistent and strong Milk River, people and towns do not have the water necessary to survive and agricultural producers do not have the water they need to continue to feed the world.
Repairs to the over century-old infrastructure system that sustains the Milk River have been long overdue and we have seen the damage neglecting these repairs can have. Back in 2019 when Drop 5 of the St. Mary Canal failed due to decades of neglect, we braced for the worst. Luckily water reserves kept agricultural producers and towns going until an “all hands-on deck” approach succeeded in rebuilding Drop 5 and Drop 2 of the canal. However, a more ominous threat still looms in the continued deterioration of the diversion dam itself. If that were to fail, that could spell an unprecedented disaster for the Hi-Line.
The avoidance of such a disaster is why this bill is so important. By investing $100 million into long-lasting rehabilitation of the St. Mary/Milk River system, especially the Diversion Dam, this will deliver assurance that the water supply we need to survive and thrive will be here for generations.
However, this bill means much more for Montana than just critical water infrastructure. The bill will invest nearly $3 billion into repairing Montana roads and bridges, expand access to high-speed rural broadband internet, replace 100% of the lead pipes in the U.S., expand passenger rail service, manage federal forests to mitigate forest fires, and help remedy the supply chain issues inflicted by COVID-19. It also contains less publicized provisions, such as an easing of trucking regulations that will make it easier to haul cattle. To do all this it will create thousands of good paying jobs for Montanans, most of which do not require a college degree.
All in all, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill will make is easier for Montanans to work and live in the state we love for generations to come.
This all may not have been possible without the advocacy of our Senator Jon Tester. As the only member of the Montana congressional delegation involved in this bill’s creation and the only one to vote for the bill, this once in a generation investment in our infrastructure would not have come to fruition if not for Tester. So, if you like having a clean and reliable water supply, good roads and bridges, good paying jobs, or any of the other positive effects this bill delivers, then thank Jon Tester for fighting for all Montanans in the U.S. Senate.
December 2, 2021