Posted: 01/28/10 16:38
by Dave Mindeman
When it comes to future economic activity, I assumed that we had gotten beyond the debate about rail. Rail travel is going to be part of the mix in 21st century travel. But unless Minnesota competes for Federal dollars now, we will be left begging for crumbs in the future.
Minnesota is not off to a good start. The Central Corridor light rail situation is hopelessly entangled in turf arguments. Future rail is getting bashed by Republican demagoguery. And now, right now, we are missing out on full Federal backing for high speed rail.
This rail network is going to happen. The funds are being doled out now, and Minnesota is in the mix....but at the end of the line.
Minnesota couldn't make a decision on a route for high-speed rail service to Chicago, so today the federal government gave it the equivalent of the home version of its "let's build high-speed rail" game: $1 million to "study" the situation. It put itself in a position to do little else, and got a little more than half of what it had asked.
$1 milllion for a study? That's like saying..."thanks for trying, we'll put you on our mailing list."
To me, the logical route to promote was the one through Rochester. It probably would have cost more initially, but it would have connected up the major population centers and it would have allowed true "high speed" travel. The river route would have made use of the older track but the speed would have been reduced because of the winding path.
So, we are still viable but we blew the immediate impact.
Pawlenty provided no leadership. McCollum insisted on the river route which made comparisons and discussion with the Rochester side difficult. And the Rochester advocates would not compromise either.
Thanks everybody for the great leadership. Maybe we can get some of that rail money in the future...when it will get us less and cost us more.