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Commuter rail will be discussed at Willmar meeting

WILLMAR -- Minnesota's rail plan, and the possibility of developing a commuter rail line on existing tracks in west central Minnesota, will be discussed at a public meeting Wednesday in Willmar.

The open house, hosted by national, state and local officials, will be held be from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Minnesota Department of Transportation's District 8 headquarters.

The Legislature passed a bill last spring to conduct a study of all rail corridors in Minnesota, including the Little Crow Transitway. The study is designed to determine what, if anything, should be done to reduce pressure along Highway 12, west of the Twin Cities.

State Reps. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, and Al Juhnke, D-Willmar, both will attend the open house and urge area residents to participate in the discussion.

"We're looking at possibilities and are gauging the interest in communities it affects," Urdahl said. "We look forward to receiving feedback and field questions from local residents."

"I'm very pleased the Department of Transportation agreed to hold a meeting in Willmar to fully consider the Twin City-Willmar-Sioux Falls rail route." Juhnke said. "Our ridership on this line would be close to other state lines receiving high priority treatment; it is important we make every effort to bring passenger rail to our region of the state."

The MnDOT office is located at 2505 Transportation Road in Willmar.