Advocates make $27 million bonding request for high-speed trains

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After an unsuccessful request last year, advocates for high-speed transit in Minnesota are making another giant bonding request in 2014.

Finance & Commerce reports the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission on Thursday supported a $27 million bonding proposal recommended by the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Passenger Rail Office.

A big chunk of the money, if granted, would go into design plans for high-speed lines between the Twin Cities and Duluth, the Twin Cities and Rochester and also the high-speed line that advocates would eventually like to see between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee.

In anticipation of the Twin Cities-Milwaukee high-speed line, some of the money will go toward adding a second, non-high speed Amtrak train along the Empire Builder route that connects Seattle and Chicago.

The second train would only go between the Twin Cities and Chicago. The newspaper says the project will also help gauge future demand of the high-speed rail between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee, and ultimately Chicago.

Results on a study looking at ridership and cost projections of the second Amtrak train could be released as early as March.

Although Minnesota continues to plan for the Twin Cities-Milwaukee line, Wisconsin has not been participating. In 2010, Gov. Scot Walker pulled out of planning for high-speed rail service between Milwaukee and Madison.

“Political winds do change, and if they do we’ll have all the engineering ready to go,” Dan Krom, MnDOT's passenger rail co-project manager, told The Capital Times earlier this year.

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