Transportation Posts

Northern Lights Express Passenger Rail: Stimulus or Boondoggle?

There have been a number of posts on PDD in the past regarding the Northern Lights Express passenger rail project, which would create a 155-mile train corridor connecting Duluth to Minneapolis. With Congressman Jim Oberstar’s loss to Chip Cravaack in Tuesday’s election, and Cravaack’s stated lack of support for the project, the subject of the NLX seems worth revisiting.

However, I’d like to provide some special guidelines for commenting on this post, because we’ve seen in the past that there are some pretty passionate supporters and opponents of this project, and its pros and cons tend to get lost in personal attacks and partisan silliness.

So, let’s try a little experiment. What I’d like to see is three different types of comments.

1) Simple links to news and information related to this subject, without any commentary whatsoever.

2) Comments labeled “Pro” at the beginning, which list one good thing about the project.

3) Comments labeled “Con” at the beginning, which list one negative thing about the project.

Keep it brief, resist the urge to respond to other people’s comments, resist the urge to make multiple pro or con comments, resist the urge to bash Cravaack or Oberstar, resist the urge to comment about these guidelines.

Ready. Set. Go.

Duluth Party Bus Recommendations

I am hoping all you wonderful Perfect Duluth Day readers can help me plan the best bachelorette party for my friend! I am in need of suggestions for party bus rentals. The party will be in early June, so I need to get one booked soon. Have you had any wonderful experiences with any local party bus drivers/services?

Isn’t it time for better transit?

All this talk about sustainability in Duluth, and how the DTA was named Best Transit Provider in Minnesota, and it wins all the Sustainability Points it can get (biofuels, paper reduction, hybrid busses, new technology, etc) – but..

Why can’t a car-free-sustainable-person like me take a bus downtown or to a movie on a Saturday night?

Seriously… is anyone else feeling the pinch of poor transit options for the car-less or car-free of us in Duluth? Some of us make the choice to be sustainable and car-free, and then what?  We get to sit at home every Saturday and Sunday evening, because our busses stop operating around 7pm!  How does that make a “sustainable city” or attract sustainability-minded folks?  Now service is cut on the 24th during the week (no service after 7:15pm), yet not New Year’s eve.  Huh?

Have there been any attempts at better transit in the past? Advocacy groups?  Sustainability groups that take action rather than pat politicos on the back or host “seminars”?  Any ideas on organizing a Bus Rider’s Union or getting a Car-sharing program going in Duluth?

Or, as I asked the mayor in an email, as well as the DTA – “Should a guy like me just buy a car and ‘shut up’ in Duluth?”

Ideas are welcome, as are interested organizers! Send email to [email protected].

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.

Bike racks anyone?

I sent an e-mail to the Duluth Transit Authority last year questioning why it takes bike racks off before winter — seeing how in cities with somewhat similar weather (e.g. Minneapolis, Portland) leave them on year ’round and are rated some of the best cycler-friendly cities nationwide.

This morning I did the same, but with results:

I have forwarded this on for a response.
I do believe we have decided this year not to remove them.
I will supply a response when I get it.
Thank you for your inquiry.

Aleda M. Johnson
Director of Information Technology
Duluth Transit Authority

—–

Good news for cyclists, hope to see you all on the roads/trails this winter!

End of Stagecoaches in Duluth

On August 1, 1870, the St. Paul and Lake Superior Stagecoaches ceremoniously quit service with the opening of the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad. On this day, the first train arrived in Duluth from St. Paul, a roughly 150-mile trip that took 16 hours.

–Susan Marks, Historic Photos of Minnesota
Turner Publishing Company, 2009

Train knowledge

For those who want to be in the know, I’d highly recommend the meeting at the Depot from 4-7 Wednesday. From 4-5, the plans for a transportation mecca downtown will be discussed. From 5-7, the talk is the Northern Lights Express passenger train. A lot is happening right now and I’d like to see many more people informed on the project and end this “it’s just another Amtrak” talk or “not my money” plaint. We subsidize roads and other travel options and never expect a return. While the rail gets up and going with significant public investment, it is being planned as a self-sustaining operation. Anyway, come to the meeting, get informed. The NLX has a Web site: www.northernlightsexpress.com

High-speed train from Duluth to Twin Cities

The Federal Railroad Administration awarded $1.1 million for an environmental study into the Northern Lights Express high-speed rail line from Duluth to Minneapolis, according to an announcement today from U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar.

Another $1.1 million will be covered by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Engineering work for the rail line is scheduled to be done next year, with the train running in 2012.

Oberstar believes the 150-mile route will have minimal environmental impact because it will run along existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail lines.

“I expect this study to demonstrate a positive impact on the environment,” Oberstar said in a news release. “It will take cars off the road, and reduce air pollution and fuel consumption.”

See the full story: Northern Lights Express train receives $1 million for study

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