It appears the Minnesota Prairie Line won’t receive any federal economic stimulus funds to upgrade the 94 miles of railroad track from Norwood Young America to Hanley Falls.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has decided to spend its $503 million in economic stimulus funds on roads and bridges.
Members of the Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Coalition met with lawmakers last month as part of Transportation Day at the Capitol. Informational packets detailing the proposed rehabilitation project were presented. Coalition members praised the efforts of State Rep. Terry Morrow and State Sen. Kathy Sheran.
One Minnesota Department of Transportation report had called for the rail project to receive $10 million from the stimulus package. Proponents of the project state that it is “shovel ready” and a economic contributor to the entire region.
The project of upgrading the track is estimated to cost $40 million. This would include allowing 255,000 pound rail cars that could travel 25 mph on the track.
Last month, Minnesota House File 660, authored by Morrow, appropriated $10 million in bond proceeds for a grant to the Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority to rehabilitate the track. The track is owned by Carver, Sibley, Renville, Redwood and Yellow Medicine Counties and operated by the Minnesota Prairie Line, a subsidiary of Twin Cities and Western Railroad.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Congressman Tim Walz helped appropriate $950,000 in federal railroad improvement funding.