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Rail accounts for about 10 percent of the value of trade across the western border. Major western crossborder commodity movements by rail include lumber, potash, newsprint, and automotive products. Indications from interviews with customs officials suggest that crossborder rail traffic is holding steady, whereas truck traffic is growing rapidly. Intermodal movements crossing the western border include:

Saskatchewan potash, which is trucked into North Dakota for trans-shipment on the BN.

Western prairie grain is trucked to various elevators in North Dakota and Montana for trans-shipment on the BN.

Containers are trucked between Seattle and Vancouver for trans-shipment with different water and rail services.

Containers are trucked between U.S. rail services and Canadian origins and destinations, and Canadian rail services and U.S. origins and destinations.

Containers and trailers are trucked between Alberta and Shelby, Montana pursuant to the special weight provisions of ISTEA allowing Canadian weights on I-15.

Many of these movements occur at GVW levels greater than 80,000 pounds. In some cases, container movements would not be possible at a GVW level less than 80,000 pounds. In other cases (grain), the movements are made economically (more) feasible because of the higher GVW limits provided.

References For Chapter 3


Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act: Section 1089 and Section 6015 “Assessment of Border Crossings and Transportation Corridors for North American Trade--Report to Congress,” FHWA-PL-94-009.


“Descriptive Report on Trade and Transportation in the Western U.S.-Canada Region,” L. Swanson and N. Moisey, FHWA-PL-94-009-040, September 1993.


“The Transborder Competitiveness of Canadian Trucking,” J. Heads et al, Transport Canada, June 1991.


Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act Section 6015 Study: Assessment of Border Crossings and Transportation Corridors for North American Trade (West): Section 6015 Study: Results of the Futures Assessment Process, FHWA-PL-94-009-32, p 31.

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