Roch. high-speed rail could make $1B yearly

A proposed high-speed Zip Rail line between Rochester and the Twin Cities could generate nearly $1 billion a year, according to a report released by the Rochester Area Economic Development Inc.

The report also found that over a 25-year period, the Zip Line could generate nearly $17 billion in economic activity and 7,888 jobs.

Gary Smith, president of the Rochester economic development group, cautioned that this study looks at the proposal's potential economic benefits, not its feasibility.

"We're not doing this because it sounds like something cool to do. What we wanted to know is 'Will there actually be some economic benefit to doing this?' And what this report says is 'Yes, there will be,' " he said.

The Olmsted County Regional Rail Authority, the City of Rochester, the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce and Mayo Clinic are pushing for the rail line, which is estimated to cost around $1 billion and take 15 years to build.

MnDOT officials are studying the proposed route and its potential environmental effects.

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