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With help from state funding, Amtrak will add second daily route from St. Paul to Chicago

Gov. Tim Walz signed a transportation bill Saturday that included $10 million for an additional daily train.

A transportation bill signed off this week by Gov. Tim Walz will create a second daily rail service between St. Paul and Chicago.

Gov. Tim Walz signed the Legislature’s $7 billion omnibus transportation bill into law Saturday. Among the provisions was $10 million to fund a second daily round-trip Amtrak train between Chicago and St. Paul’s Union Depot Station.

Service is expected to start in 2024.

“I’m proud we’ve reached bipartisan agreement with the Senate after working to secure strong transportation investments across the state,” said House Transportation Committee Chair Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, in a statement after the bill passed the House.

“Minnesotans expect us to improve and maintain our transportation system because it keeps us safe, creates good jobs in a time of economic recovery, and gives all people and communities the opportunity to grow and prosper.”

The addition adds service to Amtrak’s Empire Builder line, which travels between Chicago and Seattle and Portland.

The additional train is also supported by $32 million in federal grant funding, $6.2 million from Wisconsin and $5 million from Amtrak, according to the Star Tribune.

The transportation bill received bipartisan support in the Legislature, passing 112-21 in the House and unanimously in the Senate.

Other provisions in the bill include allocating $57.5 million for bus rapid transit, opening driver's license exam locations closed due to COVID-19 and $18 million in the Small Cities Assistance Program for small towns that don’t benefit from the state’s gas tax program. 

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