Key Findings & Recommendations_____
Reconnecting Minnesota 2
• Modern, high-speed passenger rail service, long a transportaon staple in Europe and Asia, is aboutto blossom in the United States, with important implicaons for Minnesota. A new federal studydocuments rail’s benets of safety, energy conservaon, highway congeson relief, environmentalprotecon, economic development, emergency preparedness, mobility for the aging and globalcompeveness.• Congress has approved by veto-proof biparsan majories $13 billion over ve years for passengerrail iniaves. A planned high-speed route from Minneapolis to Duluth could be among the rst in linefor some of that money. A St. Paul-Chicago connecon is also a strong contender. Local and mulstateplanning and engineering for both are well underway.• Together, these two projects would bring Minnesota more than 15,000 jobs, $648 million in addedpersonal income, nearly $2 billion in enhanced property values and at least $1.2 billion to $2.3 billionin savings from reduced travel mes, congeson and polluon.• Minnesota’s costs for these projects – a total of between $700 million and $750 million, according tothe latest esmates – would be reduced to no more than $150 million in general obligaon bondingwith the help of 80 percent federal funding approved by Congress. Operaons, possibly by private-sector concessionaires, are projected to produce healthy prots.• Most of the progress toward high-speed rail in Minnesota has been achieved by a broad coalion of cies, counes and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, who have taken the lead in nancing early planningfor a Duluth-Minneapolis link. With Gov . Tim Pawlenty’s recent vetoes of $6 million in bondingappropriaons for Minnesota passenger rail projects, state government support has lagged, especiallyin comparison to $80 million of bonding authority already on the books in Wisconsin.• Other rail links are being promoted by Minnesota ocials in places such as Albert Lea, Rochester andWillmar, but these proposals are lile beyond the talking stage.
• President Bush, who previously sought to defund Amtrak and has threatened to veto the currentpassenger rail legislaon, should sign the bill into law.• Minnesota should step up its nancial commitment to both the Duluth and Chicago high-speed linksto ensure their prompt development once federal funding becomes a reality.• Proposals for other routes will need well-organized support and funding from city and countyocials and other prospecve beneciaries in order to compete for federal and state grants.