Northern Lights Express could cost $1 billion

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

The proposed Northern Lights Express from Minneapolis to Duluth runs into complications after a MnDOT “worst-case” estimate comes in much higher than a more conservative estimate by rail supporters.

24 Comments

mevdev

about 11 years ago

Holy crap, I just came here to post this article.

What a load of crap.

Patsy

about 11 years ago

Let's think about this.  If Northern Lights Express could cost 1 billion, (admittedly a huge sum) isn't it reasonable that other rail lines could also be incredibly expensive?  Are we going to just sit back and allow this sort of thing to take away another positive investment for our area?

Don't you think, some of this is being planted by elected officials in other areas of the state and country who want to get that transportation money for their districts?  This is hardball politics, and everyone is fighting for rail funding because it is clearly the way of the future.  If Duluth does not have passenger rail in the next decade, we will be cut off from so much of the rest of the state and country, that our economic problems today will look like a walk in the park.

Don't let this sort of doomsday scenerio distract anyone from the real issue; will Duluth or Rochester get the next rail funding?  Will a train come from Duluth to Minneapolis, or from Fargo?

They're going to build passenger rail, it's going to cost buckets of money.  So, why shouldn't it come here before other areas in the region?

In a national study, the Duluth to Minneapolis rail plan was determined to be one of the top 10 in the nation.  Then, other regions got in the act, and now everyone wants passenger rail service.  It's essential to Duluth and the our entire region that we have efficient transportation and a quick link to the Twin Cities.

What's happening here is the metro law makers have gotten a hold of this project and are trying to discount it's value in order to put rail service where it will serve their interests, not where it will best serve the needs of the entire state.

TimK

about 11 years ago

One billion? What's that, like 2 or 3 days of Iraq war?

davids

about 11 years ago

Patsy makes many good points--and if you look at the article and the hundreds of comments on the Star-Trib's site, you'll see the political dimension emerging quite clearly. This one's gonna take some consistent and continuous support of Oberstar and pressure on the MN senators to get and hold traction in Congress.

mevdev

about 11 years ago

Last time I looked there was a road from the Twin cities.


Also, I hate paying for children's schools since I don't have any kids.


Also, if you don't SUPPORT OUR TROOPS with bumper stickers and plastic flags you are a liberal blowhard.

mevdev

about 11 years ago

Is Oberstar completely lacking power in his position?

If I were HEAD of the damn ways and means committee I'd have my state filled with rail, diamond studded roads and helicopters for everyone. Oberstar has gotten us a bike trail or two and maybe a bridge. Great.

adam

about 11 years ago

That is also in "current dollars," so you can add 30%.

Adem

about 11 years ago

They should spend 2 billion and do it right.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

Double tracks built the full length of the route would allow trains to run at high speeds throughout the trip. Choosing to do that would be one of the factors that could push the cost up to $1 billion.

Congressman Oberstar's two cents:

"Those are factors yet to be determined. Resolution of those open-end issues will determine (the project's) overall cost. I don't see the need for a billion-dollar investment." 

(Source: Minnesota Public Radio - "Oberstar says proposed rail line's price tag too high.")

O.G.Duluthian

about 11 years ago

One Billion? What's that like 2 or 3 days of Pelosi/Reid/Obama skullduggery??

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

Ken Buehler, executive director of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum and a member of the Northern Lights Express Technical Advisory Committee provided some clarification in an interview with the Northland's NewsCenter today.

He said the Minnesota Department of Transportation's study shows the cost of a statewide rail plan to be $1 billion. "In other words, not just this corridor between (Duluth) and Minneapolis, but all corridors in the state of Minnesota -- Rochester, Mankato and into the Twin Cities."

The other study specifically addresses the corridor from Duluth to Minneapolis and projects the cost to be $615 million.

The Star Tribune seems to have done a poor job of explaining this.

frank nichols

about 11 years ago

Lets see. new hockey rink. new baseball stadium. new football stadium. more gambling. all held up by railroad tracks, more low wage jobs, higher taxes, no manufacturing jobs, yea I'm all over that.

@ndy

about 11 years ago

mevdev: Oberstar is chair of the Transportation Committee. Charlie Rangel is chair of Ways and Means. Oberstar is not powerless by any means. Why do you think we received so much funding for the I-35 bridge reconstruction? Why do you think we still have an airport? Why do you think so many roads are being repaved under the stimulus bill? I guarantee you that Oberstar has a hand in just about every federal dollar that comes to Minnesota that is even remotely related to transportation.

Resolutionary

about 11 years ago

The Northern Lights Express is a solid infrastucture project.  Trains cost a lot of taxpayer's treasure just like our congested money-pit roads.  If we we had any chance of keeping up with the 300 mph trains of China, France, or Germany, it would cost WAY more than $1 billion, as it would need to be entirely grade-seperated from other roads. But it seems like even in a best-case scenario we'll be competing in a 21st century world with 20th century infrastructure.

But the train is going to be built. So here's the question we should be asking: What new transit does Duluth need to build so car-less visitors can get around when they show up at the Depot?

zra

about 11 years ago

If Reagan hadn't gutted the public transportation infrastructure, this wouldn't be an issue.

If Reagan hadn't gutted the public transportation infrastructure, we would have a commuter rail system in place that would rival Europe.

spy1

about 11 years ago

Think about this: Reconstructing a 3.5 mile portion of Hwy. 61, just north of Tofte, will cost $8.053 million, or roughly $2.3 million per mile. While reconstruction of Hwy. 61 is a different animal from other road projects (keeping the road open with no detour alternatives adds as much as 50 percent to project costs) work on it is something we have come to accept, i.e the tunnels, other improvements along the shore. Take that $2.3 million per mile figure and apply it to the 155-mile NLX corridor and you get $356 million.

huitz

about 11 years ago

@ spy1...
Apples and oranges.  One gives you passage, the other gives you transport.

I agree with Resolutionary, though.  The DTA already kicks butt, but it may have to step it up a notch in the future.

spy1

about 11 years ago

Um, that was a post saying that the cost isn't so much when you think about what we spend on roads. Tho I can't say where you are leaning for I don't know your value of passage vs. transport.

mevdev

about 11 years ago

I saw an LED sign downtown in one of the bus shelters. Is the DTA planning scrolling updates on how many minutes and which bus is coming?

I've seen a couple systems like that in Potsdamn, Germany and damn did that make the bus 5 million times cooler.

Resolutionary

about 11 years ago

Minneapolis' Marq2 Bus Rapid Transit opens Dec. 14th.  Marquete and 2nd Ave downtown each have two dedicated bus lanes.  New bus shelters have signs with real time schedule information based on GPS in the buses. Stops without shelters have posts with a button you push and it will tell you when the next bus is coming.

huitz

about 11 years ago

Ah, spy1, I though you were suggesting that such an endeavor should only cost 350 mil instead of 615 mil.

jamie

about 11 years ago

That's a bargain

mevdev

about 11 years ago

Now, how about personal rapid transit covering Duluth with a rail line extending up the shore. 

PRT:[Central Avenue to Lincoln Park, Lincoln Park to the mall and also to downtown, downtown to Lakeside, downtown to Coppertop and over to Hartley by way of UMD.] That would cover most of the hot spots and be 10 blocks from anywhere in the dense areas of the city.

It is inevitable that oil will cost more and more money. I already think maintaining a car is incredibly expensive. Furthermore I don't even like driving. Why am I forced into this?

Jessica

about 11 years ago

mevdev, the dta has been using the scrolling led's to show the time till the next bus for at least a year.

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