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La Crescent Council supports increased passenger railway project

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An Amtrak train prepares to depart from Winona to Chicago.

LA CRESCENT — A long-discussed second railway line may be in the area’s future.

At last week’s meeting, the La Crescent City Council unanimously supported a request to the state of Minnesota for a $10 million allocation to help make it a reality.

La Crescent Mayor Mike Poellinger said the project has been discussed for more than a decade.

“Right now, several key components are falling in place,” Poellinger said.

According to documentation provided to the council by All Aboard Minnesota, a 501 ©(3) non-profit education and advocacy group focused on the expansion and development of intercity rail transportation, Minnesota needs $10 million to secure $32 million in federal matching funds to enable a proposed second daily train on the current railroad right-of-way.

“The state of Wisconsin has a match for their improvement,” Poellinger said, “so they feel they’re going to get their portion of it.”

The new service would provide a second daily train between St. Paul, Minn. and Chicago, Ill., providing service to 10 new small and mid-sized communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.

The proposal includes $5.1 million for potential additional track, switches, and signaling at the new Mississippi River Bridge in Shore Acres, with a further $15.8 for a second rail at the River Junction location which would run to Winona.

“The La Crescent area would benefit by almost $20 million,” Poellinger said.

Representatives from All Aboard Minnesota are asking for the council’s support of their request for the $10 million allocation.

“Our goal would be to get the second lane to eliminate back-up that occurs at all of our crossings almost every weekend and evening,” Poellinger said. “And then we hope to be in a better situation to negotiate the horn situation.”

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