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State plan's phase one leaves out Little Crow Transit (Minneapolis to Willmar) passenger service, endorses high-speed rail to Chicago

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota transportation officials are going on the record in support of a high-speed rail line between the Twin Cities and Chicago, but leaves out of phase one the Little Crow Transit Way (Minneapolis to Willmar) passenger service concept.

However, the statewide rail plan released Thursday didn't try to straighten out the knotty politics of picking a route through southeastern Minnesota.

The plan does recommend that both Minneapolis and St. Paul have stops on the line, which is expected to cost more than $1 billion.

However, the plan does not support in its phase one plan anything for the Little Crow Transit Way (Minnepolis to Willmar) passenger service or for any Minneapolis-Willmar-Sioux Falls passenger service.

The Little Crow Transit Way option has been pushed by Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, and Rep. Dean Urdhal, R-Grove City.

The state Legislature ordered up the plan last year, well before an infusion of $8 billion in federal stimulus money was earmarked for rail lines nationwide.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty endorsed the Twin Cities-Chicago route last spring.

The rail plan for the state also describes passenger rail service to St. Cloud, Moorhead, Mankato and Eau Claire, Wis.