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The Rochester - Twin Cities Rail Corridor (Zip Rail)

PlanScape Impact(s): Transportation
Public Report on The Rochester - Twin Cities Rail Corridor (Zip Rail) led by North American High Speed Rail Group (NAHSR)
Last modified: October 06, 2015




With no federal funding for high-speed rail on the horizon, Minnesota Department of Transportation officials are considering suspending work on Zip Rail once an environmental review is done.

"We recognize that without a reliable source of funding for the planning and construction of a high-speed rail line, the project really just is in kind of limbo," said MnDOT Chief of Staff Eric Davis.



Link to PB Article

Link to PB Article


Work is underway on a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement that involves analyzing eight potential routes for the proposed high-speed rail line from Rochester to the Twin Cities. Once that environmental analysis is completed, Davis said MnDOT is considering suspending work on the project, although no official decision has been made.

"There is some concern about the timing of undertaking the next phase of work because arguably that would be a waste. We would rather have identified a funding source before we would do that work," Davis said.

He added it would also be a logical place to stop work on the project in case the state decides to allow the North American High Speed Rail Group to move ahead with plans for a privately funded high-speed rail line from Rochester to the Med City.

"We recognize this would be a prudent place to pause if we were going to hit the pause button," Davis said.

The draft EIS is expected to be completed in early 2016.

Drazkowski claims 'fundamental corruption' in rail analysis

As talk emerges about suspending work on the Zip Rail project, Mazeppa GOP Rep. Steve Drazkowski is criticizing the work being done on the project. Drazkowski sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration Region IV Administrator Steven Illich late last month in which he accused the state of failing to follow federal requirements, writing that "the process has become shady." He also alleges that there is a "fundamental corruption in process."

Specifically, Drazkowski said he is concerned about a lack of transparency surrounding the rail review process and has heard from constituents who feel shut out of the process.

"I think it's important for the federal government to oversee this and know that it seems that things are not being properly followed," he said in an interview.

Drazkowski also raises concerns about the Zip Rail Community Advisory Committee, writing that the group is "nothing more than a rubber-stamp assembly" and notes it has only met once so far.

Davis said MnDOT has closely followed the federal requirements and has gone out of its way to reach out to the public. He noted the public has already had a chance to weigh in on the project at three dozen meetings with public boards and commissions, six formal public meetings and during an extended comment period on the recent scoping document.

"I'm not sure why the representative feels compelled to describe the process as something shady or back room because it's not accurate in our view," he said.


ZIP rail is on hold or maybe dead.






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