Cravaack Could Derail High-Speed Train
When long-time State Representative Jim Oberstar was defeated by newcomer Chip Cravaack in November, area residents in Minnesota’s 8th District began expecting big changes. One such change in philosophy could derail the high-speed train, called the Northern Lights Express, that Oberstar was supportive of.
“Voters in November made it very clear that this tax, borrow, and spend mentality has to stop,” Duluth city councilor Jim Stauber told WDIO. “I think representative Cravaack has made it very clear that he won’t be supporting this train.”
Stauber believes a lack of support is the least of the project’s worries. He said a lack of passengers was an issue before and it will likely still be a problem, “We had Amtrak here back in the 80′s and it was not successful, very few people rode it. We had passenger trains here into the 60′s and eventually private industry pulled out because there just wasn’t enough ridership.”
Regardless, Steve Raukar with The St. Louis and Lake Counties Railroad Authority told WDIO he sees progress ahead for 2011, “We expect our Programatic Envorinmental Impact Statement to be completed in May, which positions us to move forward with our application to the Federal Rail Administration for somewhere in the neighborhood of 55 million dollars to advance the project through the next process of getting engineering done along the entire corridor.”
The railroad Authority has set a preliminary date of completion for 2014. Minnesota faces a huge budget deficit, and this issue will be one for much debate in the coming months.