Which route for a high-speed passenger rail line from the Twin Cities to Chicago offers the greatest public benefit to Minnesota? With a singular focus on answering this question, the Southeast Minnesota Rail Alliance commissioned a study to provide state policymakers with a current, apples-to-apples comparison of the proposed River Route (Winona-Red Wing-Hastings-St. Paul) and a Rochester Route (Winona-Rochester-Apple Valley/Rosemount-St. Paul). The analysis concluded that a Rochester Route would perform better on nearly every competitive factor evaluated by federal agencies when awarding funding, including speed, ridership and economic return.
Many may be surprised to find out that two previous studies of the two routes reached the same conclusion. The study released last week -- the Tri-State III High-Speed Rail Study conducted by Transportation Economics & Management Systems Inc. -- is an update of studies released in 1991 and in 2000, which found that while the River Route may be a more expedient option, a Rochester Route's superior performance makes it the better choice.
Star Tribune by Ardell Brede and Glenn Forbes, 10/17/09