Transportation officials begin environmental review of the Zip Rail
(THE MED CITY BEAT) - The proposed Zip Rail project is set to undergo the first phase of a two-step environmental impact review project.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Olmsted County Regional Railroad Authority filed a notice of intent on Monday to begin the study.
The review process will ensure compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, notes a news release from MnDOT.
Once the study is completed, there will be another public comment period. If the planning process continues past that point, it would still be years before the start of any construction on the project.
The Zip Rail would travel directly from downtown Rochester to Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport and/or Union Depot in the Twin Cities. Officials will study two corridor options from Rochester, one that runs parallel with U.S. Highway 52 and the other Minnesota Highway 56.
Trains in some sections of the corridor would travel at speeds of about 186 miles per hour, with a projected travel time of approximately 45-50 minutes between the Twin Cities and Rochester.
The estimated cost of the project is somewhere in the ballpark of $2 to $4 billion. The project has not secured any private or public funding beyond the planning phase.
(Cover photo: Final Scoping Decision Document)