High-speed passenger rail through Rochester

The following comments were submitted to MNDOT…

I am an elected official in the city of Rochester and I would like to submit some comments on behalf of myself and many I represent in my community.  This is not an official action of the city of Rochester.  Official comments will be submitted via ROCOG.  I would like to also address some addition points that I don’t feel are being given enough attention.

Regardless of the final decision, I would like to lend my strong support to the concept that decisions should be made on a data driven decision basis. The position or vocal activism of certain politicians should not be a driver. The decision should also be made on the basis of lifecycle benefits, not on the basis of immediate gratification or expediency.

I support an eventual high-speed passenger and freight rail infrastructure with the ability to connect Minnestoa’s two most vibrant economies, that of the Twin Cities metro and Rochester. The data that has been gathered clearly shows the ridership potential of Rochester/Rosemount vastly exceeds that of any combination of River communities. Further, the ongoing myth that the River Corridor can support high-speed rail given geometric and congestion limitations must be examined and given its proper regard. The medium speed travel on the river corridor may have adverse consequences for what is a key migratory pathway for many bird species including the American Bald Eagle.

In addition, not enought respect is being given to the reality that the CAPX 2020 electricl transmission project will potentially allow for a shared corridor between Rochester and the Twin Cities, further eliminating any up front cost differential. This will also offer needed infrastucture for potential electrification of the line.

In considering the true long term cost/benefit of high-speed rail, it is foolish to not consider the reality that the key Minnesota airport is currently land-locked without potential of further expansion. As capacity is reached in Bloomington, a high-speed connection to the Rochester Airport will enable Rochester to act as the third terminal in an integrated system. Further, air freight congestion can potentially be relieved at both O’Hare and MSP by utilizing existing infrastructure present at RST. This includes major North-South and East-West freeway, freight rail, skilled labor, industry, and air capacity. The cost of building a second major Minnesota airport could potentially be in the tens of billions and we can alleviate that cost by being smart now.

In closing, we live in a situation where Minnestoa only has one growing city of the first class, Rochester. To not leverage the wise decision making and leadership this community has shown and instead give preferential treatment to rail corridors designed for the 19th century, in the name of politics and expediency, would be a mistake.

Michael Wojcik, Rochester City Council, Ward 2

You are invited…

Please join Michael every third Wednesday from 4-6 pm at Beetle’s Bar & Grill (230 20th Ave SW, Rochester) for casual conversation and discussion about issues of concern to you and Ward 2.

Contact Information…

Please contact Michael about any concern, any time at votewojcik@gmail.com

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