HAMILTON, Mont. -

Ravalli County commissioners postponed until Friday, a decision appropriating money to make up for Montana Rail Link's shortfall on the Bitterroot tracks.

On Thursday it was in negotiations with a potential Rail Link customer that could lower the county's bill.

It's good news for supporters who want to get the trains rolling again from Missoula to the Victor Crossing south of Stevensville. The county has a longterm contract with a company to provide magnesium chloride for road dust abatement and erosion control.

Commissioners talked to the company by telephone Thursday morning. The material has been trucked to Ravalli County, but it could be shipped by rail to the Bitterroot. The initial costs to the county by rail would be higher.

"But if we were able to add the credit for having a larger number of rail cars delivered to Ravalli County," said commissioner J.R. Iman, "then the difference would benefit the county financially."

If the shipper agrees, Ravalli County's share of the costs could be reduced. Hamilton and Stevensville have already promised to pay $10,000 and $20,000. MRL says it will resume service for one year if it can break even.

In that time, supporters hope to generate more rail customers.