Bluestem wondered about a cryptically boastful press release we received at 12:24 p.m. this afternoon from North American High Speed Rail Group strategic communicator Wendy Meadley.
A Google alert we just received for a news article published online before noon this morning may provide the answer. In Future of private high-speed rail project uncertain, updated five hours ago, Heather Carlson reports:
Those looking for an answer to whether private investors will build a high-speed rail line from Rochester to the Twin Cities will just have to keep on waiting.
Wendy Meadley, who has been overseeing the rail project work, said Tuesday that no final decision has been made on whether to move ahead with the project, but she said there are several investors who remain interested in supporting it.
"There are private investors that are pursuing high-speed rail — passenger and freight services — connecting the Twin Cities and Rochester, with momentum," Meadley said.
t has been two-and-a-half months since North American High Speed Rail Group hosted representatives of China Railway International in Minnesota. The company wants to do something never before done in the U.S. — privately build a high-speed rail line. The plan calls for a $4.2 billion, elevated high-speed rail line to link Rochester and Bloomington. Most of the rail line would be built in the median of U.S. 52.
Meadley said no legal agreement has been reached with China Railway International to build the high-speed rail project. . . .
But the high-speed rail project is likely to face some push back at the Minnesota Capitol next year. Republicans will be in control of both the Senate and House, and many are wary of rail projects. Sen.-elect Mike Goggin, R-Red Wing, pledged during his campaign that the first bill he will introduce in January will be aimed at blocking the project.
Goggin said he wants to make sure no public money is spent on the project. He also wants to pass legislation to prevent eminent domain from being used to acquire land for the project. His bill will require the rail company to set up a decommissioning fund to ensure that if the project fails, taxpayers aren't stuck paying for it.
"There is not going to be any government money spent on this project. If they are going to somehow be able to do this, it is going to be on their own dime," Goggin said.
The project has faced fierce opposition from rural communities along the U.S. 52 corridor. Residents have expressed concern about the potential use of eminent domain and how that would impact farmers, small business owners and homeowners. . . .
Meadley can blather on about potential partners--as she has done for years now--but this seems like a train that's going nowhere.
Here's the press release:
Minnesota High Speed Rail Corridor Gains Regional Stakeholder Interest
November 23, 2016 (Minneapolis, Minnesota) These statement are being made as part of a previous commitment for a “go/no go statement" on behalf of the North American High Speed Rail Group and its Minnesota Department of Transportation work permits that conclude on December 1, 2016.
There is now robust excitement and interest to advance the high speed passenger and freight rail service and its significant development potential. NAHSR looks forward to ongoing participation alongside the many stakeholders, developers and investors now focused on this effort.
We have acquired the information needed relating to the topographic and geologic features of the planned corridor and have determined that an extension of Minnesota Department of Transportation permit is not required at this time.
There are currently several technical and strategic partners that are joining hands to participate with regional stakeholders to bring high speed passenger and freight rail service to this important corridor, and supporting the vision of a future high speed rail program connecting the Twin Cities to Chicago Illinois, via Rochester, Minnesota. Periodic updates regarding project progress will be distributed as information becomes available.
That's some word soup, a thin gruel rather than a "robust" porridge, especially in light of legislative opposition and well-organized resistance in a part of the state where ordinary people have turned back a plan for a poorly-sited wind farm and secured township and county ordinances that put the brakes on the frac sand industry.
Image: This project reminds us of pop cultural iconic images about popular resistance to rail, from the Simpsons to Blazing Saddles.
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