In an earlier post about the new plan to make the Twin Cities to Rochester Zip Rail a privately funded project, Bluestem had asked the question, Will Steve Drazkowski's constituents get on board with Zip Rail if it's a private railroad?
Two irate letters in the Rochester Bulletin suggest that the answer to our question isn't just "no," but "Hell No."
Outside of local papers in the potential corridors for the train--which will not stop between the metro and Rochester--there's been little mention in the press of the passionate and widespread opposition to the project on the part of those in its path. Instead, the media focused on the happy feelings that Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) and Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) were experiencing after meeting with the private investors.
We'll let the letters speak for themselves. Brad Singewald of Cannon Falls writes in Zip Rail will be detrimental to communities, regardless of funding source:
Zip Rail is preposterous. It is a want and not a need.
I am very disappointed in Rep. Pat Garofalo and Rep. Steve Drazkowski, who were against this, but have flip-flopped and are willing to compromise since there is a private investor.
ntroducing bills to ensure no public money will ever be used is not enough. The only reasonable option is the no-build option. As Wendy Meadley stated in the March 18 Post-Bulletin, they will no longer work with communities. Rather, they will focus on the possible transformation it will bring.
The only potential transformation for those towns in the path of Zip Rail is to ghost towns. This is not a good thing for any of the communities outside Rochester and the Twin Cities. Everybody else along the path will lose.
I find it hilarious that there is a Nels (Rep. Nels Pierson) involved in this because it reminds me of "Little House on the Prairie." In the series finale, when the train wins and is going to come through town, which none of the townspeople wanted, they took drastic measures. What did they do? They blew up every building in the town because they would have lost everything anyways.
Maybe those of us who live along the corridors should do the same. After all, the transformational impact for these towns would be the same.
Singewald draws his pop culture inspiration for putting those torches to use from The Last Farewell 1984 TV movie finale of Little House on the Prairie.
In Big bucks equals continued progress to create Zip Rail in region, Don Buck of Zumbrota is hoping for a miracle (especially since the train isn't elevated):
Seven years ago, many Goodhue County residents began spending the next five years opposing the construction of a large wind farm in their neighborhood. They hired a lawyer and presented many arguments to the state Public Utilities Commission concerning physical, mental and emotional health issues and the loss of property values.
These issues were gathered from similar high population centers with wind farms. Each time the Public Utilities Commission would dismiss all of the claims. The wealthy wind farm investors had the green light to proceed.
Then the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced that six active eagle nesting sites would be endangered by the wind farms. The story ended.
Now, our focus is on Zip Rail. Few, if any, residents in Goodhue County are in favor of the proposed Zip Rail. However, it seems wealthy investors will be allowed to build this rail, located 20 feet in the air through one of two locations in Goodhue County.
When they announce their route, hopefully, our DNR friends will find some endangered eagle nests in the area and stop the construction. After all, birds count more than people.
In the comments section, Ric Dow comments:
Breaking news: Spotted Owls have been sighted throughout Goodhue County... and snail darters!!!
The letters sharply contrast with the casual Facebook threads of friends in the Twin Cities, who imagine that this project is "transit" like light rail in the metro or commuter rail on the East Coast. Nope, it's an express train that will cost between $27-$30 each way with little benefit for the rural counties in the way.
What will the Zip Rail experience be like for people living in these areas? In the Kenyon Leader, N. Monroe writes in Zip Rail - We do not want it!:
ZIP RAIL is a proposed the 100 Mile long Passenger Rail Line from the Twin Cities to Rochester- no stops-Yes- I said, no stops! This electric Zip Rail will travel between 165 to 220 miles an hour, in a 400 feet wide closed corridor. A closed corridor mean there will be fences to keep everything out, no East and West road crossing, or no animal crossing. This propose Zip Rail is to be built near Highway 52 or Highway 56. The Rail corridors and the 3 to 5 overpasses − for the 100 mile railroad − will remove over 3,600 acres permanently from production, a loss of $4,520,000 from Minnesota Economy each year.
Do an experiment. Look out your window to the road, right in the middle of the road is a high fence and then a railroad track beyond. A train going 165 Mile MPH travels down the track. WOW! The train riders will get to their destinations in 45 minute. Now you need to get your mall from the box on the other side of the road. Get in your car and drive to the nearest overpass — probable 10 to 20 miles away — cross the Zip Rail overpass and drive back to your mailbox for the mail. Isn't this a great idea for Central Minnesota? How long did it take you to get home with your mail? How much extra money did it cost you?
All the east and west roads in Dakota, Goodhue, Dodge and Olmsted Counties will be cut, where there will no At-Grade roads at all. Farming operation will have extra miles to move equipment to fields, Emergency, and Law Enforcement Services will have longer response times. Cities and businesses will have fewer customers. Churches and communities will be divided. School districts will be eliminated or have long bus rides for students. Wild animals will not be able to cross the Zip Rail corridors. The quality of life for everyone in Minnesota will be effected by this railroad.
Minnesotans like to travel. We want to go to Red Wing, Mankato, the State Parks, or go fishing in the small lakes. We — Minnesotans- need to stop the zip rail from being built. Call or write your elected officials let them know this Zip Rail is not a good idea. Sign the petitions No Zip Rail Some information from 2015 MN State Rail Plan.
We tremble when we reflect on what these folks will say and do when they throw off the shackles of Minnesota Nice and tell us what they really think.
Image: Artist's conception of the Zip Rail. Missing? The barriers that will be built on both sides of the tracks, which wouldn't feature a single at-grade crossing once it leaves the Cities.
If you appreciate Bluestem Prairie, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button below:
Email subscribers can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient