A Minnesota transportation solution: private funding

High-speed rail between Rochester and the Twin Cities is never going to happen at the snail’s pace efforts have moved in recent years.

A Rochester group apparently has the solution — cut the government out of it.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin reports a private group has been meeting with county and state officials with a proposal for a privately funded rail line linking the area.

What’s in it for the North American High Speed Rail Group?

“The economic development piece is exactly the model that we believe has been missing in America thus far. When you look at high-speed rail, it’s active and thriving around the world,” Wendy Meadley, the group’s chief strategist, tells the paper.

It’s the first time the name of the private interest has been revealed.

The question of how to pay for the proposed high-speed rail line has been the biggest issue for advocates. The project is estimated to cost between $2 billion to $4 billion to construct. Meadley said the group would cover the total cost of the rail line’s construction and operation.

Since the project would not be contingent on federal or state funding, she said that would enable it to move ahead more quickly. The goal would be to complete the project by 2022.

Olmsted County Board of Commissioners Chairman Paul Wilson said the county has been looking to partner with a private-sector entity to move the project forward.

“The goal all along has been that we’d work with the private sector and the private sector at some point would be the main force behind it,” Wilson said.

Two routes are being considered — one along Highway 52 or one on Minnesota 56.

Meadley said her group doesn’t plan to spend time trying to convince communities to back their proposal, according to the Post-Bulletin.