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Plans progressing for high-speed rail

A project that would establish a high-speed rail line between Rochester and the Twin Cities is moving forward and Zip Rail project staff will host a series of public meetings to share updates on the project.

Locally, a meeting will be held 5 to 7 p.m. July 30 at the Inver Grove Community Center. During the meeting, project staff would like to hear from the public.

The Rochester-Twin Cities Passenger Rail Corridor, or Zip Rail, will span 100 miles and will travel between 150 and 220 MPH. The corridor will pass through Dakota, Dodge, Goodhue, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey and Rice counties.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is leading the effort in partnership with the Olmsted County Regional Railroad Authority and the Federal Railroad Administration.

Since the last series of meetings, held last summer, a general corridor has been established for the rail line. Project staff narrowed 1,200 possible route combinations down to eight.

Regardless of the exact route, the proposed corridor would take the line through Rosemount’s east side. Rosemount city planner Jason Lindahl said project staff has met with landowners who may be affected by the project including Flint Hills and UMore Park representatives.

“The city has been an interested participant,” said Lindahl of the progress.

Lindahl said city staff will continue to participate as long as the project remains consistent with the city council goals.

“The city council sees economic and transportation potential in the project,” said Lindahl.

Currently, the remaining routes are being analyzed using specific evaluation criteria. The evaluation considers preliminary travel time from end to end, top speed, ridership estimates, consistency with local planning efforts in each city, connectivity to local grids and infrastructure and social, economic and environmental impacts, according to the Zip Line Summer Newsletter.

A State Scoping Booklet and Draft Scoping Decision Document have been completed as part of the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement. According to the Zip Rail newsletter, key decisions that will be made as part of the EIS include the locations of primary terminal points and station locations, Mississippi and Minnesota River crossing locations and the corridor alignments north and south of Coates.

The biggest obstacle for the line will likely be money. A preliminary cost estimate for the project is $973 million. Additionally, the coalition will have to get state and federal legislatures on board as well as various counties and municipalities including Rosemount.

President Barack Obama has dedicated $8 billion dollars of stimulus money to high-speed rail projects.

More information on the project can be found at Residents can also submit comments through the website.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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