Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) Commissioner Charlie Zelle this week joined several other state leaders in calling for the addition of urgent infrastructure projects for the international rail crossing in Ranier as part of a local bonding bill.
Among the projects that would be added to the bill, which is being introduced by state Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, is the construction of a county road overpass and extension that will provide access to 50 homes currently cut off from the city when trains are crossing the tracks. Sometimes these residents are stranded for hours at a time.
“The projects proposed in this bill will go a long way toward alleviating serious and persistent delays and safety problems at the Ranier crossing," U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn) said. "The shipments and commerce coming across the border at Ranier [are] important – but so is the safety and quality of life of the people who live in the region. These improvements will benefit everyone, and we hope for speedy inclusion and passage.”
The bill also would provide an alternative route on the east and west sides of Ranier when a long line of rail cars blocks normal crossings.
“The high volume of rail traffic coming across this corridor every day is a constant disruption to the lives and businesses of the entire region,” Gov. [Mark] Dayton said. “I will continue to press hard this [legislative] session to ensure the rail companies who are causing these disruptions help pay for their solutions.”