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FRA signs off on environmental work for Minneapolis-Duluth high-speed rail project

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has found "no significant impact" on the Tier 1 Service Level Environmental Assessment for the proposed Minneapolis-to-Duluth high-speed rail service known as the Northern Lights Express (NLX).

The project now can advance to the preliminary engineering and Tier 2 level environmental documentation phase, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) officials said in a press release.

The Tier 1 assessment examined the 155-mile corridor for the social, economic and environmental impacts of building infrastructure necessary to operate 110-mph trains. Part of the high-speed line would pass through Douglas County in Wisconsin.

The Tier 1 environmental assessment was made available for public comment in spring. The FRA took those comments into consideration when preparing the finding, MnDOT officials said.

Under the state's environmental review process, MnDOT also has issued a "findings of fact and conclusion and a negative declaration" indicating that a state environmental impact statement is not required, they said.

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