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Gov. Walz Fails to Stay the Execution of Kenilworth Trail until SWLRT is funded

The Met Council has been saying for years that it is ready to apply for a federal grant. Yet, here we are in 2019, during the Trump administration, without an invitation to apply for $929 million federal funds and the State has pulled support, leaving Hennepin County as the source of funds. Local officials are nervous. And the clear-cutting of trees has begun. ...

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No Funding for Proposed Duluth Train This Year

Minnesota taxpayers dodged another bullet with the collapse of a bonding bill at the state legislature this session.  Among the pet projects thankfully left in limbo? The so-called Northern Lights Express (NLX), a more than half a billion dollar boondoggle that was tracked by the Duluth News Tribune. Breakthrough funding for the proposed $550-million passenger rail line between the Twin Ports and Minneapolis will have to wait for at least another year after the Minnesota Legislature last week failed to address the project. Funding for the Northern Lights Express passenger rail line ultimately landed in a proposed off-year bonding bill. The bill...

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Are Minnesota Taxpayers Being Taken for a Ride by Amtrak?

Most Minnesotans have likely never heard of the proposed $550 million Northern Lights Express (NLX) passenger rail line from the Twin Cities to Duluth-Superior. Yet MnDOT has been quietly laying the groundwork for the line for years with a series of engineering and environmental studies. Meantime, Gov. Walz has prioritized the project, requesting $15 million from the legislature to keep NLX on track. If NLX becomes a reality, MnDOT has made it clear that Amtrak would operate the 152-mile line on behalf of the state. In recent weeks Amtrak officials have surfaced in meetings with elected officials in Duluth-Superior and the...

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Stop Clear-Cutting of Trees for SWLRT: Residents Petition Gov. Walz

Something is up. The Met Council is spending $200,000 in taxpayer dollars on lobbyists to secure the federal funding. Why spend bucks on lobbyists if you are certain of funding? Maybe I was wrong to write that the federal funding train has left the station. I am happy to be wrong about that. Let's cheer these petitioning residents on. ...

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Rural Reporter Derails Star Tribune on New Amtrak Train to Duluth

The Star Tribune editorial board carries considerable weight as the voice of Minnesota's biggest media outlet. But the paper's recent endorsement of bringing back the failed Amtrak Twin Cities to Duluth-Superior passenger train just got derailed by a rural Pine County online website the ed board likely never heard of--PiCK News. PiCK stands for Pine County Knows News, run by longtime local reporter Ailene "Gussie" Croup, who's tracked the proposed Northern Lights Express (NLX) boondoggle from day one in 2007. She laid it on the line in a hard-hitting rebuttal run by the Star Tribune. It was the beginning of millions of...

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Push for Return of Failed Duluth Passenger Train Reaches State Capitol

Old rail lines never die. They keep chugging along, powered by just enough taxpayer funding for the required environmental and operational studies to maintain bureaucratic momentum over the years. Then out of nowhere comes a PR offensive this week to herald the return of the failed Amtrak passenger rail service between the Twin Cities and Twin Ports with a series of public events at both ends of the line, including the State Capitol. A top Amtrak official will hold an open-house today at the Duluth Depot with a pitch to turn back the clock to the 1980s defunct Northstar line. Now rebranded...

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Amtrak Launches New Effort to Revive Failed Passenger Line to Duluth

Amtrak's operating loss for 2018 came in at $168 million--and they're proud of it. Never mind that the passenger line would be even more in the red if the cost of depreciation and other expenses were included. Yet it's the lowest operating loss ever since the inception of the taxpayer-subsidized rail line in 1972, cause for celebration in their world. All told, it was "the best performance in Amtrak’s history," Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said in an interview. With the bar set low, it should be no surprise that Amtrak officials want to revive another money-losing passenger rail line that used to connect...

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