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Duluth Rail: Train to Our Economic Future

Category: Transportation
Posted: 11/25/08 15:21, Edited: 11/25/08 15:23

by Dave Mindeman

Phil Krinkie, head of the Minnesota Taxpayer's League, and chief curmudeonly resident trainophobe, let loose with another "rail" (pardon the pun) against light rail in Minnesota via Minnpost Community Voices.

Now, if I lived in Duluth, I would be particularly insulted. Duluth is certainly not "nowhere" by anyone's definition. It is a vibrant and busy Great Lakes port. But Mr. Krinkie is determined to point out the "boondoggle" nature of connecting the Metro to Duluth by a rail line. Krinkie sums it up this way:

Why dub this project the "train to nowhere"? Not because Duluth isn't a great city to visit, but because Duluth is not on the way to anywhere, except maybe Grand Marais, a town most Minnesotans have never seen. Add to that, the only time most people would ever want to go to Duluth is in the summer.

Now spending $400 million on a 150 mile rail line is certainly a large investment. And if the only reason for it was to provide a means of simply getting from point A to point B, then anyone would be hard pressed to justify it. After all, we already have a direct interstate highway route.

But there is much more to it than that. People can use the rail line to commute to many points along the corridor. And with the increased traffic potential comes the increased development along the way. Smaller towns can be revitalized. Entrepeneurs can build new business potential in new areas. Tourism becomes easier to promote. And job seekers can find a safer and easier way to expand their job search. Light rail = Economic Development.

We may have weathered another gas price crisis, but another will surely follow. Putting rail lines in place now will always give that necessary competition to ease oil consumption demands. And it is the green alternative to cars or buses.

Phil Krinkie has been a life long critic of trains in Minnesota. He uses the word boondoggle each and every time he discusses the rail system. Almost singlehandedly he has delayed moving this state into a more complete and comprehensive transportation system. He never considers the possibility that he could be holding back Minnesota's economic progress as well.

A rail line to Duluth is not a "train to nowhere", it is a "train that holds our future".


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