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The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) plans to hold several public meetings in both Minnesota and Wisconsin over the next two months to gather input for a 2015 update to the Minnesota State Rail Plan.MnDOT expects to make a draft of the plan — which covers the state’s freight- and passenger-rail system — available for public review by January 2015. The plan will provide guidance and priorities for state transportation decisions to ensure that efficient, competitive services are available to rail shippers, and that freight access is enhanced to local and global markets, MnDOT officials said in a press release.Public meetings are scheduled for Nov. 5 in St. Cloud, Minn.; Nov. 6 in Eau Claire, Wis.; Nov. 12 in Red Wing, Minn.; Nov. 13 in Mankato, Minn.; and Nov. 17 in Duluth, Minn. Other meetings will be held later in Fargo/Moorhead, Rochester and Willmar, Minn. The meetings will include an overview of the current plan, along with anticipated freight- and passenger-rail expansions in the near and long term, MnDOT officials said."Key to this plan update will be a review for compliance with 2013 Federal Railroad Administration guidance," said Dave Christianson, MnDOT's senior rail planner. "The 2015 update will integrate the latest information on four currently active passenger-rail projects, re-evaluate potential future passenger-rail corridors, and update freight commodity flows and trends."The department also plans to review the plan Nov. 10 at a Passenger Rail Forum at the December Freight and Logistics Symposium in St. Paul, and hold an additional two rounds of public meetings around the state in January.
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