There’s a “State Rail Plan” and it’s up for comment NOW! But I’m wondering just what it is that they’re trying to do, and it seems like the goal is to secure public spending for necessary private infrastructure.  If not, what’s the goal here?

MN DOT has been holding meetings all over the state, Alan went to one in Red Wing last week, and there’s a couple more coming up:

Nov. 24: Moorhead, MN
Hjemkomst Center 5 – 7 p.m.

Nov. 25: Winona, MN
City Council Chambers 5 – 7 p.m.

What’s up for comment?

Start with this 2010 Report from the DOT website:

MN Rail Plan Final Report Feb2010

And updates to consider:

Now check this, from last February:

BNSF Announces $5 Billion Capital Commitment Program

Why is this news?  Isn’t it their job to keep the rails in decent shape, to invest in their own infrastructure, not just to put money in Warren Buffet’s pockets!

When the DOT predicts this level of service (LOS) with or without improvements, are they including improvements such as the $5 billion of BNSF?  The DOT seems to be cheerleading for PUBLIC spending on PRIVATE infrastructure!  These are private for-profit companies (well, some may be “public” in the corporate sense) and they are responsible for their infrastructure.  What is the DOT doing to force the rail companies to upgrade to keep their Level of Service (LOS) at an acceptable rate, SAFELY, so they’re able to handle all the freight that they’re wanting to ram through our communities?  It’s not the job of government to subsidize the likes of Warren Buffet!

2030 Freight&Pass with Improvements

Here’s a freight survey from their site — note it’s called “Metroquest” so go figure.

Something I found interesting when considering rail is this testimony from the Sandpiper pipeline case (go HERE and plug in dockets 13-473 for Certificate of Need and 13-474 for Routing):


They’re framing this Bakken BOOM! as binary, either rail or pipeline, and whenever something is framed that way, that’s a big red flag to take a closer and more thoughtful look.

DOT says there are going to be “stakeholder” meetings — meetings that should be well attended by people like us!  From their site:

  • Three major stakeholder meetings are also scheduled, coinciding with the November 2014 Passenger Rail Forum, the December 2014 Freight Summit, and the January 2015 Passenger Rail Forum. A second round of open houses will be held in early 2015.

So when are these meetings?  Passenger Rail Forum meetings are supposed to happen monthly but don’t.  Just this last Monday, Gov. Dayton’s “Rail Summit” was supposed to have happened. MPCA Commissioner Stine mentioned it at yesterday’s meeting and said there would be another next month, and Frank Hornstein’s fb post, but there’s very little about it in the news other than announcements 10/31 that it would happen, in St. Paul, and of course we all weren’t invited:

Here’s how it’s framed by our good friends at KSTP — if you click on the link, it’s pipeline promotion:

Dayton Hosts Governor’s Rail Summit to Discuss Rail Safety, Backlog 17, 2014
Railroad, agriculture and political leaders will be attending the Governor’s Rail Summit to talk about increasing railway safety, addressing the …

Back to the DOT — look at this “Passenger Rail Forum” and how that’s been “working” — meeting after meeting canceled:

Forum meetings

All forum meetings are held from 10 a.m. to noon at the State Office Building unless otherwise specified below. Meetings will be canceled when there are insufficient topics to merit a meeting.

State Office Building, Room 5
100 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
St. Paul, MN 55155


Location / Time

Jan. 6, 2014 Canceled
Feb. 3, 2014 Canceled
March 3, 2014 Conference call
April 7, 2014 Conference call
May 5, 2014 Conference call
June 2, 2014 Canceled
July 7, 2014 Canceled
Aug. 4, 2014 Conference call
Sep. 8, 2014 Rescheduled to Sept. 15 via conference call
Oct. 6, 2014 Canceled
Nov. 10, 2014 State Office Building, Room 5, 10 a.m. to Noon
Dec. 1, 2014 State Office Building, Room 5, 10 a.m. to Noon

Check out their site.  What are they really doing here?  What’s really at issue?  I think we’re looking at a scam to get the public to pick up the tab for infrastructure updates that haven’t been made over the last few decades:



These slides are from this presentation — note the date: November 12, 2009… presented at the November 12, 2010 meeting (That’s what the date is on the site, and the 2009 date matches up with the properties date.)  ???


And another thing… why is the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce interested in Bakken BOOM oil and why is DNV-GL top-heavily loading the panel coming up here on December 4th?

2 Responses to “State Rail Plan – Meetings & Comments!”

  1. Jim Gurley Says:

    Wow, Carol, you’re always on top of things and you ask the right questions.

    I’m sick of my tax dollars going to Corporate Welfare. Fat cats like Buffet do not need, nor do they deserve, ANY public monies. I will try and attend the big meeting this Tuesday Nov 25 at Winona City Hall — I hope lots of folks will show up and ask the right questions and demand honest answers!

    I have personally highly encouraged both Rep Walz and Winona Mayor Peterson to hold Town Hall-type sessions in Winona (as well as in La Crescent, Wabasha, etc)so that the REAL stakeholders – the residents in these communities who are at risk of being burned alive (as well as those who’d prefer not to see Winona destroyed)can be told the unvarnished truth about the dangers and the reality that officials are POWERLESS against a bad accident/spill/fire like the one in Lac Megantic, Quebec.

    I think these guys like Walz and Peterson need the courage to go before their constituents face-to-face with these realities. But Walz just replied with vapid boiler-plate BS, and Mayor Peterson responded to my suggestion with this sterling example of strong and wise leadership:
    “This really is a federal issue to make sure the railcars and track passing through Winona are safe. I’m not sure what would be accomplished by me as mayor holding such a meeting other than to scare people. I would need more of a reason to do this than that. I do believe our local first responders are as prepared as they can be should, God forbid, such an emergency occur.”

    By the way, I wonder why this Dave Christianson is such a frac-sand booster? He shouldn’t be heading up these discussions about mobile time bombs. (Does anyone have an idea about how to get Dayton to have the DOT Commissioner put someone else out in front on this subject?)

    Thanks again, Carol.

    Jim Gurley
    Winona County, MN

  2. Alan Muller Says:


    Thanks for taking the time to generate these thoughtful comments. It would make sense for people who endorse them to tell that to MNDOT.

Leave a Reply