Minnesota Conducting Study of Future Rail Lines

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota is conducting a statewide study of future rail lines in Minnesota will consider all options. Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced the survey, as the state prepares an application for “federal stimulus funding” for rail projects.

Pawlenty is directing Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Tom Sorel and the Minnesota Intercity Passenger Rail Transportation Forum to study all potential future rail lines in Minnesota. The group will advise Commissioner Sorel on the implementation of a comprehensive statewide freight and passenger rail plan and on which projects to submit for federal funding.

Pawlenty and Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., have discussed the need to study all potential rail corridors through a data-driven process.

The rail forum’s work will assist efforts as the state applies for federal funding for high-speed rail contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and other related federal programs, the governor said. The “stimulus package” includes $8 billion for capital grants for high-speed rail corridors and intercity passenger rail.

“We should consider every option, including rail, as we build a 21st Century transportation system that assists economic development and better moves people and goods around our state,” Pawlenty said. “Minnesota will compete for federal rail funds in a comprehensive manner based on data and analysis. The rail forum is already off to a good start and will ensure that our application makes the best case for our state.”

Rail lines that Pawlenty directed to be considered in the statewide study include the “Northern Lights Express” between the Twin Cities and Duluth and a Twin Cities to Chicago high-speed rail line that could include access to Winona and Rochester.