Logan Nash is the TFA expert on all things concerning Minnesota, so I really should leave this alone. The smell of an over-active state highway department is unmistakable. Of course, in Arkansas nobody even pretends to care about passenger trains.
First of all, the proposed upgrade is to 100 mph – not true HSR. The project of improving tracks between the Twin Cities and Chicago is fairly practical. The most important thing is to sort out the best existing lines. Count on politics to get involved there.
The surest way for state bureaucrats, completely sold out to truckers and highway special interests, to kill a project is to study it to death. Here we go again, maybe. You decide.
The report is in the Winona Daily News.
A plan to run high-speed trains from the Twin Cities through Winona would get $5 million for an environmental study as part of a bonding bill approved Monday in the Minnesota Senate.
The $5 million allotment, if approved by House lawmakers and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, could position Minnesota for federal stimulus funds to link the Twin Cities to Chicago with 110-mph trains. But even as the Senate approved studying a high-speed route along the Mississippi River, other state leaders won’t dismiss the possibility of another route for the proposed line, perhaps through Rochester, Minn.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has studied upgrading Amtrak’s Empire Builder route from St. Paul to La Crescent to carry high-speed trains; those plans now could qualify for part of the $8 billion in rail funding tucked into the stimulus bill. A MnDOT spokesman said Tuesday that the department may apply for the stimulus funds to study upgrading the Empire Builder route � or to analyze alternative routes through Rochester or Eau Claire, Wis.