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Higher Speed Trains to Duluth Study

by Drew Kerr A new environmental report on a planned high-speed train from Minneapolis to Duluth didn’t expose significant barriers to its construction, though future funding for the $820 million connection remains undetermined.

The Environmental Assessment released Monday by the Minnesota Department of Transportation says that bridge work, wetland crossings and station construction for the Northern Lights Express would have limited impact along the 155-mile corridor.

Adding passenger trains to the freight rail corridor would likely mean building new tracks near BNSF’s Northtown Yard, in Fridley, between Isanti and Hinckley and near Superior, Wis. Nearly two dozen bridges may also need to be replaced or rehabilitated.

Bob Manzoline, executive director of the St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Rail Authority, described the report’s largely positive findings as an “absolutely huge” milestone for supporters of the high-speed connection.

“Many projects get mired down in some of the effects the project would have, but they really haven’t found anything here that would be a real detriment,” Manzoline said Monday. “Nothing is rising to the top, so we’re pretty happy about that.”

Officials from several communities along the corridor said they were still reviewing the report but that there were no glaring, immediate concerns.

“I think the city is just happy to have the project moving forward,” said Mark Perry, Hinckley’s planner and zoning administrator.

Still, building a high-speed connection would not come without its impacts. Read more: