MISSOULA -- The Missoula City Council backed the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority with a resolution of Support on Monday night.
11 counties across Montana, including Missoula, have signed on to the resolution forming the authority.
Passenger rail advocate and Missoula County Commissioner, Dave Strohmaier, said getting the City's support is a big step in the right direction.
"After 41 years of not having passenger rail service through southern Montana, this is probably one of the most significant steps forward that we've made to set the stage for this to become a reality," Strohmaier said.
The goal is to form a passenger rail service that would cover the southern part of Montana, from Idaho to North Dakota. It would increase travel across the state while reducing highway congestion and boost the economy.
Council member, Jordan Hess, said he's wanted to restore passenger rail service for over a decade.
"Passenger rail is an opportunity to create infrastructure investment that will drive economic activity and economic recovery," Hess said.
Strohmaier agreed that Montana needs to be focusing on economic recovery post COVID-19.
"It ought not to look like re-creating the world that existed four, five months ago," he said. "It ought to be investing strategically in a transportation infrastructure for the long hall."
The 11 participating counties are now going through a formal adoption process to establish the authority.
On September 17, Missoula will host a virtual rail summit where people can find more information on the project. You can register to join here.