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High-speed rail will miss Winona

(The following story by David Krotz was published in the January 15 online issue of the Winona Daily News.)

WINONA, Minn. -- Proposed high-speed passenger trains from the Twin Cities to Chicago are not likely to stop in Winona, County Engineer David Rholl told the Winona County Board on Tuesday.

Rholl also said proposed coal trains from Wyoming on the DM&E line will probably be routed through Iowa now that the railroad is purchasing the I & M Rail Link.

The Midwest Regional Rail Initiative is a nine-state effort in partnership with Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration to create high speed rail (up to 110 mph) connections throughout the region centered in Chicago.

Rholl said current plans will route trains from the Twin Cities to Rochester and then along track built along the I-90 corridor to Wisconsin. Passenger trains would stop in La Crosse but not Winona. Planners hope to create the rail line by the end of the decade.

In the other rail issue of interest to Winonans, Rholl said DM&E would continue to haul grain here for transshipment even if it routed coal trains through Iowa instead of Winona.

I & M has track linking south central Minnesota to Chicago that does not pass through large cities.

"That's the thought, get coal trains to the east without passing through any major cities," he said.

If DM&E took long coal trains through Rochester and Winona, it would require more planning delays, agreements and mitigation requirements, Rholl said.

Rholl's views were based on conversations with various officials and study groups.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

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