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The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) yesterday announced plans to begin the first of a two-step environmental impact study for the high-speed Zip Rail project linking the Twin Cities to Rochester. The study's first phase will examine the social, economic and environmental impacts of eight options for the proposed high-speed passenger rail service. A no-build alternative will also be considered, MnDOT officials said in a press release.The environmental review statement is required by the Federal Railroad Administration if the project seeks federal funding.The area covers a 100-mile corridor between Rochester and the Twin Cities that passes through Dakota, Godge, Goodhue, Hennepin, Olmsted, Ramsey and Rice counties.