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Minnesota officials seek $50 million to fund study of high-speed rail line

(The following story by Mark Sommerhauser appeared on the Winona Daily News website on August 4, 2009.)

WINONA, Minn. — Minnesota officials want $50 million in federal funds to design a high-speed rail line that may go through Winona en route from the Twin Cities to Chicago.

The request is part of a larger, $382 million bid for federal stimulus funds by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The larger request also would pay to study a proposed high-speed line from Minneapolis to Duluth, Minn., and to finish building a commuter-rail line from Minneapolis to St. Cloud, Minn., MnDOT officials said Monday.

The $50 million request would pay for environmental, engineering and design studies of the Twin Cities-to-Chicago high-speed line, MnDOT officials said.

The design study would analyze three routes for the line through Winona, Rochester, Minn., and Eau Claire, Wis., MnDOT spokesman Dan Krom told the Daily News last month. Such an analysis would address the debate over whether high-speed trains would follow the Amtrak route along the Missisippi River — as favored by St. Paul leaders — or go through Rochester, as leaders there have suggested.

Some Minnesota officials initially hoped the St. Paul-to-Chicago project could receive construction funding from an $8 billion pool of stimulus funds earmarked for high-speed rail. But MnDOT officials since have said it’s unlikely the Minnesota portion of the line will be built with those funds, though Wisconsin may get $500 million to build a stretch of the line from Milwaukee to Madison.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

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