Minnesota’s Statewide Freight and Passenger Rail Plan receives national transportation planning excellence award

ST. PAUL, Minn.—The Minnesota Department of Transportation received a national Transportation Planning Excellence Award for the 2009 Minnesota Comprehensive Statewide Freight and Passenger Rail Plan, a strategic vision for enhancing the movement of people and freight and improving access to goods and services.

[Note: Minnesota’s State Rail Plan includes a St. Paul-Hudson-Eau Claire route as part of its envisioned Phase I Passenger Rail Plan.]

The award was presented July 11 by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration (divisions of the U.S. Department of Transportation) and the American Planning Association at the Transportation Research Board meeting in Minneapolis.

“In developing this comprehensive state rail plan, we have created a map for commodity movement by rail as well as a passenger rail network of linked routes that will improve travel times, energy conservation, environmental impacts, and traveler convenience throughout the region,” said Tom Sorel, Mn/DOT commissioner.

Mn/DOT was one of 11 winners of the biennial award, which recognizes outstanding initiatives nationwide that develop, plan and implement innovative transportation planning practices. Ninety projects competed for the award.

The panel of judges noted the plan’s comprehensive and balanced nature, data-driven approach, vision for the future, and leadership and compliance in responding to emerging federal requirements and guidelines.

Using data and planning analysis from the state rail plan, Mn/DOT and its partners submitted grant applications for rail-related projects to the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. As a result, the state received funding for the completion of the St. Paul Union Depot. Minnesota also was awarded the only basic high-speed planning grant in the country from first round stimulus funding for development of the Chicago-Twin Cities corridor.

“We’re already seeing pay-offs from this comprehensive plan, and look forward to future achievements in the areas of freight and passenger rail for our state and the region,” Sorel said. “Mn/DOT shares this award with our partners and the transportation stakeholders who participated in this landmark planning effort.”

[Note: Wisconsin DOT is currently working on a draft of its plan. For current information, click here.]

Click here to read more and for a link to the Minnesota Rail Plan.

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