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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton late last week proposed $330 million in 75 rail safety projects over the next 10 years, with funds coming from assessments on Class Is, state general obligation bonds and increased property taxes for railroads. The new property taxes on railroads would amount to an additional $45 million each year for the state's various cities, counties and townships to implement rail infrastructure improvements, according to a press release from Dayton's office."Over the last year, I have traveled across Minnesota and seen firsthand the very serious and costly challenges that increased rail traffic have thrust upon our communities,” said Dayton in a prepared statement."Minnesotans did not cause these disruptions; they are not responsible for the endless barrage of dangerous cargo being shipped through their communities every day," Dayton said. "The railroads responsible for these problems have a responsibility to pay for these essential safety improvements."The projects would cover major grade separation projects, including four of the state's most congested rail crossings. Dayton's plans also include the creation of a new training facility for first responders for derailments, establishing more quiet zones, and the appointment of rail office director to oversee safety projects, rail inspections and enforcement.
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