DOT seeks input on Mpls-to-Duluth rail line

The Minnesota Department of Transportation will release an environmental assessment on Monday on a proposed high-speed passenger rail service between Minneapolis and Duluth.

The 155-mile Northern Lights Express would run primarily along existing BNSF track and reach speeds of 110 miles per hour.

MnDOT project manager Julie Carr said the public will have a chance to comment on the need for the project and its effect on vegetation and wildlife.

"Once this is complete and if the Federal Railroad Administration concurs and issues a finding of 'no significant impact,'" she said, "MnDOT will proceed with the Tier 2 environmental work and preliminary engineering."

She added that the high-speed rail project faces "competitive funding, so we'll know more as we go forward, but we do having the funding for the preliminary engineering."

The environmental assessment for the Northern Lights Express will be available for public viewing at selected sites and on MnDOT's website.

There will be a public comment meeting April 4 at the Cambridge Armed Forces Reserve Community Center in Cambridge, Minn.