LITCHFIELD -- A resolution to study a passenger rail route in west central Minnesota was approved Tuesday by the Meeker County Board of Commissioners.
The resolution, which was adopted at the request of Rep. Dean Urdahl, directs the Minnesota Department of Transportation to "continue to study the potential for passenger rail service" on the Little Crow Transit Way corridor as part of the statewide passenger rail plan
"It's a good concept," said County Administrator Paul Virnig. With progress stalled on making U.S. Highway 12 a four-lane road, any improvement in transportation infrastructure would be good, said Virnig.
If the passenger rail option is pursued, the existing Burlington Northern Santa Fe lines could be used to bring passenger rail service from Willmar to Minneapolis.
In a letter to Meeker County, Urdahl, R-Grove City, said transportation plans to the west, either rail, bus or road, are "woefully lacking." That's why he's asking MnDOT to look at the possibilities of various transportation options, including the Little Crow Transit Way corridor.
"If rail makes sense, if it is economically feasible and could sustain itself, let's weigh the potential," wrote Urdahl.
He said a constituent also gave him a bus plan for the Met Council to consider.
Urdahl said "thousands of workers commute into the Twin Cities every day" from west central Minnesota. Including a passenger rail option in the study could help determine which transportation alternative may be best. Urdahl said he's not requesting additional funding for the project at this time.
In other action:
- The commissioners heard a report from Kyle Rasmussen, the new CEO of the Meeker Memorial Hospital, about the $26 million renovation and expansion project. A time capsule that was put in place when the original hospital was built in 1952 will be opened Oct. 23. It will be replaced with new time capsule in December.
- There was discussion, but no action taken, on a procedure for replacing Community Health Service Director Ann Bajari, who's intending to retire. Bajari oversees the three-county department shared by Meeker, McLeod and Sibley counties.
- An agreement was signed with Northstar Surveying to assist the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission in completing maps for the county's GIS mapping system.