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High Speed Rail Supporters Rally in Duluth

Posted at: 12/08/2012 5:19 PM
Updated at: 12/08/2012 6:17 PM
By: Maarja Anderson
manderson@wdio.com

Students from the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) in Duluth and the Twin Cities joined forces Saturday to host a "Rolling Press Conference" to raise awareness about the proposed Northern Lights Express (NLX) high speed rail between Duluth and Minneapolis. Supporters of the rail opened the press conference at the Duluth Depot with state and city officials.

Supporters of the NLX high speed rail said they are moving full steam ahead despite recent setbacks like Anoka County's withdrawal from the program back in June. The proposed rail system would provide service from Duluth to the Twin Cities in a little over two hours, with speeds reaching 110 miles per hour.

"I implore the decision-makers, for our environment, for our economy, and to share this great city with greater Minnesota, to prioritize high speed rail funding," said UMD student and MPIRG member, Eric Meyer.

More funding needs to be secured before the nearly $1 billion project can move forward. MPIRG said they hope to re-engage the public on the high speed rail, specifically garnering support with students.

"You hear students talking about it all the time, like, 'oh, I'm going home this weekend.' There's hundreds, possibly thousands, of students that make that drive every weekend," said Meyer.

Congressman-elect Rick Nolan said he has set NLX as a priority, saying it will open Duluth and greater Minnesota to economic opportunity.

"It uses less energy, it's less costly, it's more convenient, and it's just a wonderful mode of transportation that most of the rest of the world is way ahead of us on," said Nolan.

For those in favor of NLX, the question isn't if the high speed rail will happen, but when.

"Mass transit is the wave of the future," said Duluth City Councilor Sharla Gardner. "These kind of rail systems are the new freeways."

After the rally in Duluth, supporters continued the press conference in Hinckley, St. Paul, and Coon Rapids.