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3/18/2013


Rail News: High-Speed Rail
Public hearings to review environmental issues for Texas-Oklahoma, Minnesota high-speed rail corridors



Public hearings for proposed high-speed rail corridors in Texas, Oklahoma and Minnesota will be held in the next few weeks, as state and federal transportation officials prepare environmental statements for two projects.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently filed a notice of intent to prepare a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement with the Texas Department of Transportation to study potential new and/or improved high-speed intercity passenger-rail service between Oklahoma City, Okla., and Laredo and Brownsville, Texas.

The EIS also will include preparation of a service development plan for the 850-mile corridor to evaluate corridor alternatives and help identify a preferred corridor, the location of terminals and intermediate stops, and the level of service and future planning, FRA officials said in a prepared statement.

Public hearings along the corridor will be held from March 25 to April 4.

In Minnesota, state transportation officials will host a hearing April 4 to discuss a proposed high-speed rail corridor from Minneapolis to Duluth. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) will solicit public comments on the Tier 1 Service Level Environmental Assessment for the proposed Northern Lights Express service.

MnDOT prepared the assessment, which was expected to be released today, in consultation with the FRA, the Minneapolis-Duluth/Superior Passenger Rail Alliance and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

The proposed project would include constructing the necessary infrastructure for a 155-mile high-speed rail line between Minneapolis and Duluth, a portion of which would travel through Douglas County, Wisconsin. Trains would reach speeds up to 110 mph.

The environmental assessment sets the foundation for subsequent Tier 2 Project Level Environmental Assessments to be completed as additional design details are developed, MnDOT officials said.

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