From Lazy River to Fast Reliable Transportation
The Mississippi River basin has been a transportation corridor since humans first pushed off from its muddy banks into its strong current hundreds of years ago. Then, the Iron Horse updated the valley's transportation method as it wound along the mighty Mississippi's banks through the oak and black walnut covered bluffs and coulees in the 1800s.
Now, the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission seeks to redefine a 126-mile portion of this traditional transportation corridor with trains reaching speeds of 110 miles per hour; a train that is the picture of modern comfort, reliability and technological innovation. This sleek, speedy conveyance, traveling from a revitalized Union Depot in St. Paul through picturesque river towns, will cut into Wisconsin at La Crescent on its way to Milwaukee and Chicago and provide passengers with a fast, reliable, safe alternative to highway and air travel.
Major public projects require careful study to ensure the most cost-effective approaches are taken to not only accomplish a goal, but to do so with minimal impact on the environment and the residents who live nearby. With broad evaluation of costs and benefits on a Midwest Regional Rail System completed, a Comprehensive Statewide Passenger & Freight Rail Plan completed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) and the selection of the Mississippi River Route by Mn/DOT and the Federal Railroad Administration as the preferred line for the proposed high-speed rail system, the Commission is in position to compete for federal funds to complete additional study and implementation.
The process will most certainly be complicated. Fortunately, the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission has a strong foundation in place, a network of informed and energetic elected officials representing 18 governmental agencies. This group is serious about sharing information about the proposal in an educational campaign to raise awareness, engage communities and proactively communicate toward successful advocacy of the River Route.
The Commission desires to move from a conceptual vision of a transportation alternative described with charts, graphs and numbers to building support for a reality that showcases the advantages of modern high-speed rail travel through southeastern Minnesota's Mississippi River valley, a natural jewel, and among the most beautiful locations in America.
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