While the average Minnesotan uses highways and roads to get around the state - without a thought about infrastructure plans, there's no denying the importance that freight rail plays in our economy. In fact, the majority of the products we buy in stores and use in our homes arrives to market via the rail.

That's why the Minnesota Department of Transportation invests in rail service, helping to provide for that important infrastructure needs.

Recently, MNDOT announced that they'll be funding nine freight rail projects throughout the state - investing a total of $6.95 million that goes directly towards helping local economic development.

The funding comes from their Minnesota Rail Service Improvement program - which gets its source approval from the Minnesota State Legislature. In total, MNDOT received 15 applications for funding - totaling $14.7 million. Peter Dahlberg - MNDOT Transportation Planning Director for Rail and Freight Programs - shares the important role that rail plays in the state agencies strategic planning:

"The number of applications received again this winter continues to show the strong demand for improving freight rail infrastructure throughout the state. Better rail service gives local Minnesota businesses more opportunities to compete in global and national markets."

Here is a list of what rail projects received funding this year from MNDOT:

  • St. Cloud:  Northern Lines Railroad - $381,000 to modernize and upgrade rail
  • Dundas:  RLS GL Intermediate II LLC - $1.9 million to improve and expand rail access at an intermodal refrigerated facility site
  • Lansing:  Northern Country COOP - $1.2 million to install a rail loop track that will connect to an existing rail line
  • Delavan:  Central Farm Service - $1 million to expand and improve railyard efficiency
  • Stewart:  F.W. Cobs Company, Inc. - $641,000 to install a modern, bulk rail out system to load rail cars
  • New Brighton:  Minnesota Commercial Railway - $599,000 to upgrade a stretch of track to safely accomodate heavier railcars
  • Ortonville:  KT Transload LLC - $536,000 to upgrade and modernize an abandoned rail spur
  • Breckinridge:  Red River Grain Company - $370,000 to modernize and upgrade rail track to safely accomodate heavier railcars
  • Morton:  Minnesota Valley Regional Railroad Authority - $322,000 for rail bridge rehabilitation

You can see the full list of projects and all of the details on MNDOT's MRSI website.  The program first started in 1976.

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