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U.S. Reps. Oberstar and Walz Discuss DM&E Railroad Expansion With Rochester, Minn. Leaders
Date:9/21/2007

ROCHESTER, Minn., Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Reps. James Oberstar and Tim Walz met with Rochester Coalition and Mayo Clinic leadership today to discuss the sale of the Dakota Minnesota and Eastern (DM&E) railroad to Canadian Pacific and its affect on the proposed Powder River Basin expansion project. As proposed, the expansion of the DM&E line through downtown Rochester remains a major concern for local residents, businesses and Rochester's Mayo Clinic, which is Minnesota's largest private employer and a leading worldwide destination for health care.

"We support responsible investment in transportation infrastructure, including rail," said Glenn Forbes, M.D., CEO of Mayo Clinic Rochester. "Our goal is simply to ensure the safety of our patients, staff and community. We appreciate the support of Representatives Oberstar and Walz as they begin discussions with Canadian Pacific about the future of this project."

It remains to be seen if Canadian Pacific's acquisition of DM&E is a positive development for Rochester and other communities along the line. Canadian Pacific's willingness to have meaningful discussions about how to mitigate the project's negative impacts and protect communities along the line is the Coalition's primary concern.

"This sale represents an opportunity to meet directly with a new set of owners to ensure that the safety needs of our community are addressed in a meaningful way," said Olmsted County Commissioner Ken Brown. "We see this acquisition as potentially positive and believe the Canadian Pacific will be interested in finding common ground."

"We have actively reached out to Canadian Pacific and asked for early meetings," said Rochester City Council President Denny Hanson. "We are optimistic they will work with our community to allow for a safer railroad through southern Minnesota."

Background

For nearly a decade, the DM&E has pursued a major rail expansion though parts of southern Minnesota and South Dakota in order to haul large amounts of coal from Wyoming's Powder River Basin to distribution points in the East. Unable to secure private financing for the project, DM&E sought the largest federal loan to a private company in American history - a $2.3 billion loan from U.S. taxpayers to finance a major rail expansion project through the Midwest. On Feb. 26, 2007, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) denied the DM&E's $2.3 billion loan application citing that the loan would have posed an unacceptably high risk to federal taxpayers.

In early September 2007, the Canadian Pacific announced its acquisition of the DM&E and its plans to pursue the Powder River Basin expansion. As proposed, the DM&E rail expansion remains a major concern for Rochester and many other trackside communities.

The Rochester Coalition is committed to protecting the people of Rochester and the patients and staff at Mayo Clinic as well as other affected communities.

The Rochester Coalition represents the city of Rochester, Olmsted County, the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce and Mayo Clinic.


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SOURCE Rochester Coalition
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