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All Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Montana Rail Link tracks across Montana will be operating by early Thursday evening after flood damage near Laurel and Livingston was repaired.

BNSF crews are completing work on track south of Laurel that runs south to Greybull and Casper, Wyo., said BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas in Seattle.

That line is a secondary route for the railroad, but BNSF had been detouring traffic onto it until the main line to Wyoming running south from Hardin was reopened Wednesday.

The remaining problem is a high-water area around Williston, N.D., that is limiting eastbound train traffic along the Hi-Line, Melonas said.

With more rain in the forecast, Melonas said BNSF is keeping materials and 200 men strategically placed around Montana ready to fix track.

Montana Rail Link’s track 15 miles east of Livingston also was closed Thursday after the Yellowstone River washed out the rock ballast, but that line was reopening Thursday evening, spokeswoman Lynda Frost said.

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MRL has 26 trains parked across Montana, with no end in sight. On Wednesday, the railroad, which operates 900 miles of track from Huntley to Sandpoint, Idaho, also temporarily shut down its flooded track near Greycliff.

“And the Clark Fork river is rising like crazy going through Missoula and then west,” Frost said. “Our tracks follow that river.”

Stillwater Mining Co. suspended its day shift Wednesday at the Nye mine due to record-high water flooding roads and preventing workers from getting to the mine. Work resumed Thursday, according to a message on a company hot line.

Production at the company’s other mine along the East Boulder already was on hold while workers replaced one of two main ventilation fans.

Contact Jan Falstad at jfalstad@billingsgazette.com or 657-1306.

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Contact Jan Falstad at jfalstad@billingsgazette.com or 406-657-1306.

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