Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bakken Economy: $150 Million Truck Reliever Route Around Williston Complete -- October 15, 2015

Posted earlier, this is quite a story: North Dakota celebrates $150 million solution to Williston traffic woes. The Bismarck Tribune is reporting. I find it quite amazing how quickly the county, state, and surface owners got this done. There were even some North American Native artifact issues that had to be resolved. I drove the "reliever" route numerous times -- before construction began, and then just a few weeks ago when it was all but complete.
Construction is now complete on a permanent truck reliever route around Williston, where traffic counts have grown 160 percent since 2008.
“The explosion of truck traffic during the Bakken boom, was as I would call it, ‘truckmageddon,’” said Sen. David Rust, R-Tioga, during an event Wednesday in Williston. “And it needed to be addressed.”
Traffic congestion was the No. 1 complaint of western North Dakota residents after the influx of oil activity, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said.
The state invested about $150 million on a permanent truck bypass around Williston, allowing trucks to travel up to 70 mph on a 13-mile, four-lane route that connects U.S. Highway 85 and U.S. Highway 2.
The state also invested more than $27 million on a temporary bypass around Williston while the permanent route was in the works. In addition, the state has constructed truck routes that serve Dickinson, Watford City, Alexander, Killdeer and New Town.
In the big scheme of things (Syria, the US debt ceiling, etc) this is not that big a deal, but for Williston, Williams County, the Bakken, this is a huge, huge deal. This area -- on the northwest side of Williston -- is where much of the industrial activity will take place as the Bakken continues to build out.

But then look at this: note where the "trucker reliever route" (NDDOT Bypass) is in relation to the new Williston airport. Really, really huge.

Airport relocation information here.

The Poll Is Still Open


October 19, 2015: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that SecTreasury is concerned that an "accident" could befall the US if the debt limit is not raised by November 3, 2015. I wonder what he means by "accident."

I  think his biggest concern is his own hide. If the debt limit is not raised, investigative reporters will learn more about Lew's extraordinary means to keep the debt frozen for the past six eight months. He may have caused the accident. It may turn out that he knew the cliff was coming six eight months ago, but instead of slowing down back then, he kept the pedal to the metal hoping that the bridge would be completed by the time he arrived. I assume he was taking from Peter to pay Paul these last six months, and now Paul has run out of money. Huge, huge game of chicken, if he's being honest. My hunch is that this is all political theater, the date is "fake" and the sun will rise November 4, 2015.

From the article:
The nation technically hit the debt limit in March, but Treasury officials have been using so-called extraordinary measures since then to juggle government finances and continue borrowing. [March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October = 8 months.]
What is most interesting is this paragraph:
At that point, he said, the Treasury will have about $30 billion in cash and will have to use that and the daily inflow of revenue to pay a host of major bills, including Social Security payments, federal salaries and interest on the debt.
Many years ago I connected Social Security and the national debt in the same paragraph and readers took me to task for that, reminding me that Social Security was not part of the national budget/debt; was solvent through 2032; and, in the Algore lockbox. 

It was noteworthy that Lew did not mention military pensions in that paragraph. Federal salaries clearly take precedence over pensions. 
Original Post

Rollcall is now reporting that SecTreasury Lew has told House Speaker John A. Boehner, that “based on our best and most recent information, we now estimate that extraordinary measures will be exhausted no later than Tuesday, November 3.”

For those paying attention that is two days earlier than originally reported.

Also note this last statement at the link:
The third day of the month is when Social Security checks are issued, as was noted in a report Wednesday from the Congressional Budget Office.
It is my understanding that Social Security checks are not affected by the debt ceiling limit because Social Security cash is held in the Algore lock box. However, military retiree checks are not in that same lockbox. Fortunately, military retiree checks go out the first of the month, so the government has almost a full month to figure this out.

However, the fact that "someone" is connecting "Social Security payments" with the national debt speaks volumes.

By the way, that phrase "extraordinary measures" is the reason the national debt has been held frozen for months. I've explained how SecTreasury managed to do that but looks like the party is over.

I wonder if John gave the letter to an intern instructing her to take it over to Paul Ryan's office? Rumor has it that when the press asks John about the letter, he will respond, "I haven't seen it yet."

This is probably the US version of "hot potato."

Most Important Retail Story This Week?


Flashback to August 18, 2015, from Reuters:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported weaker quarterly earnings and lowered its annual forecast on Tuesday, as it copes with higher labor costs, a squeeze on pharmacy margins and sliding sales at its British supermarket chain.

Shares of the world's largest retailer fell 3 percent to $69.75 after trading at its lowest in 2-1/2 years.

The results showed how a move to lift wages and other costs have kept Wal-Mart from taking full advantage of a strengthening U.S. economy, although there was a bright spot in its report: a fourth straight quarter of same-store sales growth.
And before that, May 19, 2015, in Forbes:
As expected, Walmart’s first-quarter earnings were below analysts’ projections. A kitchen sink’s worth of reasons were cited for the miss: the strong dollar, employee wage increases, consumer wallet tightening, lower gas prices, and weakness in its e-commerce business.

The truth is a lot simpler – Walmart has a sales problem. The company brought in essentially flat sales numbers at stores open at least a year (called comparable sales in the retail industry), reporting an anemic 1 percent increase. This is not a new story. Back in November 2014, the company announced its first quarter of positive comparable sales (a still weak .5 percent in the US) after seven straight quarters of declines. It should be noted that back then, the exchange rate was also cited as an earnings dampener, even though the company’s earnings were actually above analyst estimates.

What’s the cause of Walmart’s sales problem? It’s not all that complicated, really. Walmart continues to operate in a saturated market. Some competitors like Target have more cachet. Others, like dollar stores, continue to nip at the edges of its market basket. Its customer doesn’t seem to have an appetite to move online, and until now, the company hasn’t created any compelling reason for on-line shoppers to pick over or any other retailer, really. That’s what happens when your market is saturated. You have nowhere to go.
Today, at USA Today:
Walmart shares plunged to their lowest one-day drop in nearly three decades Wednesday after the U.S. retailing giant jolted financial markets by forecasting a 6% to 12% earnings drop in fiscal year 2017.

Shares of the Bentonville, Ark. company dropped 10.04% or $6.70 to close at $60.03 on the startling news Walmart executives delivered at the company's annual investors conference with Wall Street analysts, held in New York City.
My comments:
  • will be a losing proposition for Walmart
  • one wonders if Walmart needs to get back to its niche: small-town America; avoid major urban areas; nothing but controversy, problems, and retail saturation in major urban areas
I always thought the small, neighborhood Walmart stores would thrive, but I was completely wrong. I've only seen one and it's about four miles from where we live. We visit it only when having sushi at "Cow Town" next door. It's a clean, modern store. And there are never more than three customers in the store when we visit.

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