High Speed Rail Line Awarded $1.1 Million
St. Paul, MN – Senator Norm Coleman today announced that the Minnesota Department of Transportation has been awarded a matching grant of $1.1 million from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for the preparation of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Northern Lights Express, a new passenger rail service from Minneapolis to Duluth, including proposed stops in East Central Minnesota. The FRA will match state and local funding to study the impacts of a Twin Cities – Duluth high-speed rail line.
“High energy prices are affecting us all and have made the need to explore alternative modes of transportation that much more pressing,” said Coleman. “As I travel across the state and pull up to the pump myself, I know firsthand how these prices are affecting Minnesotans’ budgets, which is why I have been a proponent of rail projects like Northstar, Central Corridor and now the Northern Lights Express. A rail line between the Twin Cities and Duluth could have the potential to ease traffic congestion, spur economic development and decrease our environmental footprint. I applaud the FRA for providing this funding to continue the forward momentum of this project.”
“Restoration of passenger rail from the Twin Ports to Minneapolis has been our goal for a long time,” said St. Louis County Commissioner Steve Raukar, chair of the Passenger Rail Alliance. “The news of $1.1 million in federal dollars moves us that much closer to completion, thanks to bi-partisan support and effort by our congressional leaders, Senators Coleman and Klobuchar, and Congressmen Oberstar and Obey, and the entire delegation.”
“With this great news, Minnesotans are one step closer to fast, comfortable and safe passenger trains between Minneapolis and Duluth,” said Anoka County Commissioner Dan Erhart, vice-chair of the Passenger Rail Alliance. “To move these projects forward it takes persistence on the part of residents, business people, and public officials–like our congressional leaders to whom we are very grateful.”
The Minneapolis—Duluth/Superior Passenger Rail Alliance is a joint powers board formed to explore options for renewing passenger rail service in the 155 mile corridor known as the Northern Lights Express. Representatives on the Passenger Rail Alliance include the regional rail authorities of Hennepin, Anoka, Isanti, Pine, and St. Louis and Lake Counties, and the cities of Minneapolis and Duluth. Also participating are the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Douglas County and the City of Superior in Wisconsin, and other agencies and communities in the corridor.
The National Passenger Rail Study Group in December 2007 identified this corridor as one of eight top priorities for development.