So the last two weeks I wrote about the retreaded ideas for addressing the concerns of grain transportation at the recent Grain Millers Harvest Showdown.
I had planned to leave it at that, until someone asked what I would offer up to help the situation.
It was a legitimate question since a columnist should not be all negative on an issue.
And it was a question which left me scratching my head for a solution.
Grain transportation issues may actually get worse before they get better.
There are reasons for that long term which few are even discussing, at least publicly.
We have all heard of the infrastructure crisis creeping up on cities and towns, where sewer and water lines, sidewalks, asphalt, arenas and other structures are passing the point anyone expected them to last.
In time they will fail, and frankly urban municipalities cannot afford to replace them.
It is the same situation in rural municipalities where many culverts and bridges are ancient, and roads are in need of upgrades.
With the loss of rail branchlines we rely more on the road system to move grain to rail spots, and use ever larger truck and trailer units to do that, which puts added pressure on roads.
It is not a recipe for long term transportation stability.
And there is need for better rail service running south to meet markets in the United States, but the two rail companies in this country are not making that investment for grain, since they know they are the only viable service for moving the product, whether that is in a timely fashion, or at some date down the road.
So how do things improve?
Part will be legislation, which does not have to mean forced tonnages, but can ensure producer car access, and timely movement from shortlines.
It will mean some jurisdictional cooperation on small things, as Kevin Gibson with CJ Knoll Transport in Regina said at Harvest Showdown where he noted from the trucking perspective standardized regulation would certainly help.
As it stands the gross vehicle weights allowed on various types of highway vary across the three Prairie Provinces, and provincial governments leave it to rural municipalities to establish road bans associated with spring thaw, resulting in even more variance of what a truck may haul.
It would seem a manageable effort to have the Prairies provinces streamline weight limits to ease cross-border hauls.
That might seem a small step, but it is a step, and given the long-standing issues, the best hope we have is to make small improvements that overtime create a bigger impact.