Thursday, December 16, 2010

$2 million may go to Rochester corridor

The Minnesota Department of Transportation hosts a monthly Intercity Passenger Rail Forum with various stakeholders including transportation officials, politicians, and representatives of rail advocacy groups from around the state. This month, the forum recommended that $2 million be put toward studying a rail link between the Twin Cities and Rochester. Considering how much most rail projects cost, $2 million isn't a whole lot—then again, it's more than the $1.2 million that went into the current study for a rail route between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee this year.

If the recommendation is followed, the money will come from a $26 million pot which was set aside last year by the Minnesota Legislature. The group also suggested putting $10 million toward the Northern Lights Express line to Duluth, which should help that line move forward quite a bit. $9.7 million would go to the Saint Paul Union Depot project—That building could sop up any money you throw at it, so I worry a bit about how much it's costing to rehabilitate (it'll be worthwhile in the long run, though). Another $3.6 million was suggested for the Minneapolis Transportation Interchange, the next generation of the Hiawatha/Northstar Target Field station. The aforementioned Twin Cities to Milwaukee study would get another $550,000.

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