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Comment period opens for passenger rail plan linking Twin Cities to Duluth

The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, have released the Tier 2 Project Level Environmental Assessment document on the Northern Lights Ex...

The Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, have released the Tier 2 Project Level Environmental Assessment document on the Northern Lights Express Project, a proposed higher speed intercity passenger rail project to provide rail service between Minneapolis and Duluth.

The NLX Project would operate on approximately 152 miles of existing BNSF railway track.

The agencies prepared the environmental assessment document to meet federal and state environmental requirements to advance the NLX Project into further design and project development.

The Tier 2 environmental assessment builds on the NLX Tier 1 document prepared in 2013, and addresses specific project-related issues and likely environmental effects associated with proposed track infrastructure, stations, and layover and maintenance facilities and measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate these impacts.

The Tier 2 document is available on the project website, www.mndot.gov/nlx , and at local government offices and libraries throughout the corridor.

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Written comments on the Tier 2 Project Level environmental assessment are due by May 24.

Send comments to Francis Loetterle, MnDOT, 395 John Ireland Boulevard, MS 470, St. Paul, MN 55155 or email to nlx.dot@state.mn.us .

Public meetings to gain feedback and view documents are set in Duluth, Coon Rapids, and Sandstone. To request a document in an alternative format, call 651-366-4718 or email ADArequest.dot@state.mn.us .

The Tier 2 document includes documentation on the preliminary Section 106 findings regarding historic properties The Tier 2 document also includes information on the Section 4(f) impacts and the preliminary de minimis findings, i.e., that adverse impacts to parks and recreation facilities and recreational trails would not result from the proposed project. Any comments received regarding this issue during the public comment period will be taken by the Federal Railroad Administration in making its final de minimis determination.

Visit www.mndot.gov/nlx , for more information about this project.

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