Support for Efforts to Create Southern Minnesota Rail Corridor
(Rochester, MN) – Congressman Tim Walz, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Governor Tim Pawlenty today announced their support for a southern rail corridor around Rochester’s south side. The southern rail corridor would route trains away from downtown Rochester and the Mayo Clinic to reduce safety risks and allow for future development. The project would create hundreds of jobs during the construction phase while potentially preserving thousands of Mayo Clinic jobs.
Last week in Washington, Rep. Walz, Sen. Klobuchar and Gov. Pawlenty met with Mayo Officials to discuss the four funding options for the corridor, which could include (1) funding through the Surface Transportation Bill reauthorization; (2) funding through a loan application by the State of Minnesota to the Federal Railroad Administration; (3) funding obtained by applying for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars from the federal Department of Transportation; and (4) state share of bonding dollars to leverage federal funds.
Congressman Walz, a member of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, agreed to request the southern rail corridor in this year’s reauthorization of the federal Surface Transportation Bill after hearing from the Mayo Clinic that the Clinic’s Board of Trustees continues to have serious concerns about the economic and patient safety challenges the CP rail line presents to the Mayo’s Rochester campus.
“I will do everything in my power to preserve and protect the heart and soul of Mayo Clinic in southern Minnesota and to ensure that Mayo can continue to grow here in our state,” said Congressman Walz. “Mayo’s world-renowned medical breakthroughs are a direct result of the high caliber of its Minnesota employees and the supportive community in which the Clinic resides. Any significant threat to Mayo’s ability to innovate and provide good-paying jobs is at odds with the development of lifesaving medical techniques and quality of life for all Minnesotans.”
Walz went on to state that he would be requesting the southern Minnesota rail corridor as a High Priority Project of national significance in the 2009 reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Bill but also planned to assist with efforts to obtain funding from one or more of the other available funding streams.
Senator Klobuchar will pursue federal support for the corridor. “This is good for the Mayo clinic and good for the residents of Rochester,” Senator Klobuchar said. “As a world leader in medical breakthroughs and patient care, the Mayo Clinic has not only been an economic engine for Minnesota, but an active and engaged community member in Minnesota’s third largest city. I will continue to fight for federal support to keep the patients of Mayo and people of Rochester safe.”
Governor Tim Pawlenty is directing the Minnesota Department of Transportation to apply for federal grants that could be utilized for the bypass. The Governor also said he would support state bonding funds in future years that could leverage federal funds.
“The State of Minnesota has been a significant partner with the Mayo Clinic over the years and Mayo has repaid us back many times over with their contributions to our state and the world,” Governor Pawlenty said. “We need to take all reasonable steps to ensure that Mayo continues to grow and thrive in Minnesota.”
The southern rail corridor would be built in a way that primarily supports freight but also accommodates high speed passenger rail if data from the Minnesota Department of Transportation rail study supports a high speed rail route from Chicago through Winona into Rochester. The rail corridor would move existing CP track to the south of Rochester to mitigate safety concerns around the highly populated downtown Rochester area, which includes the Mayo Clinic campus. The rail corridor project is expected to create just less than 50 miles of new track outside of the City of Rochester, allowing for higher train speeds and quicker shipping of commodities for local farmers.