Senator Miller authors bill to fund Minnesota’s share of rail infrastructure upgrades in Winona and La Crescent

Senate President Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) has introduced a bipartisan bill that would fund the state’s share of a significant overhaul of southeast Minnesota rail infrastructure. 

Last fall, the United States Department of Transportation approved a $31.8 million grant for infrastructure improvements in Wisconsin and Minnesota on the Canadian Pacific’s Soo Line serving Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, including communication and signaling, extensions of rail sidings, improvements of at-grade crossings, extensions of yard lead track, and reconstruction and modification of new turnouts and mainline track. The improvements would provide significant freight rail upgrades and further the development of additional passenger rail service between the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, and Chicago.

The federal grant requires a state match. Wisconsin and Amtrak have already committed their shares of funding, leaving Minnesota as the only uncommitted partner.

“There is a significant amount of local support, and of course some opposition, to the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago (TCMC) second train proposal,” said Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona). “The second train would be a great addition, however, I’m most excited about the local track and signal improvements that are included in the proposal, which would benefit both freight and passenger rail. A $10 million investment from the state of Minnesota would result in $53 million in rail upgrades, including over $19 million in Winona and close to $21 million in La Crescent. These upgrades would improve safety and I’m told they would also improve switching times in Winona, which would be terrific for Winona.”

It would mark the eighth available round-trip service on the Hiawatha service between Milwaukee and Chicago. The Twin Cities are currently only served by Amtrak’s long-distance Empire Builder route.