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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Survey Says: Majority of Minnesotans favor DM&E plans


The majority of 400 recently surveyed Minnesotans favor the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corp.’s (DM&E) plan to upgrade 600 track miles in South Dakota and Minnesota to access the Powder River Basin, and build a 262.3-mile line through western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming.

According to the statewide survey conducted Aug. 8 and 9 by Crosslink Strategy Group, 74 percent of respondents favor the track-improvement plan, mostly because they believe it would improve rail safety. And 71 percent believe the project would give the region’s farmers a boost by providing more opportunities to ship corn and, therefore, increase ethanol production.

In addition, 66.6 percent of respondents favor the DM&E’s application for a $2.5 billion federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Infrastructure Financing loan to help fund the project, while 20.2 percent oppose it and 13.2 percent did not comment.

Finally, 58.5 percent of respondents did not believe the track upgrades would harm the safety of patients at the Mayo Clinic — which is located along the DM&E’s line and opposes the plan — while 12.7 percent believed the upgrades could harm patients at the Rochester, Minn., facility.

The clinic has voiced its opposition of the railroad’s plans for the past eight years, most recently when last month the clinic and Rochester Coalition — comprising the clinic, city of Rochester Rochester, Olmsted County and Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce — sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration urging the agency to deny the DM&E’s RRIF loan application.