Planners want comments on rail route: High-speed line would run from Twin Cities to RochesterPublished 9:41am Wednesday, July 30, 2014
By Nick Ferraro
Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
Planners of the proposed high-speed rail line from Rochester to the Twin Cities are taking comments on the alignments recommended for further study.
An open house will be held Wednesday in Inver Grove Heights for the public to learn about the “Zip Rail” project and give opinions on issues that should be considered during the ongoing scoping process, which includes narrowing the list of eight remaining alternatives and identifying potential environmental impacts.
The 30-day comment period on a scoping draft document began July 7 and will remain open through Aug. 6.
The Zip Rail study area is an approximately 100-mile corridor that includes Dakota, Dodge, Goodhue, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey and Rice counties and various endpoints in the Twin Cities and Rochester area.
An intermediate station is being considered for southern Dakota County.
Earlier this month, a technical advisory committee selected the eight alternatives out of the initial 1,200 alignment combinations initially studied, said Charles Michael, project manager and consultant hired by the Olmsted County Regional Railroad Authority. The agency is funding the current phase of the project, along with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
“We’re trying to narrow the alternatives down even more to get to a more manageable number,” Michael said.
South of Coates in Dakota County, the line would follow either U.S. 52 or Minnesota 56.
North of Coates, the alternative segments include one grouping that extends northwest toward Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and another grouping extending north toward Union Depot in St. Paul’s Lowertown.
The Zip Rail would travel the corridor in about 50 minutes or less, planners say.
Specific cost estimates have not been identified for the remaining alternatives, Michael said, adding that the project would include funding from local, state, federal and private sources.
The open house will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Inver Grove Community Center, community room 2, 8055 Barbara Ave. A short presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m.