Sieben bill could mean a park and ride for downtown HastingsA bill introduced by Sen. Katie Sieben Tuesday could provide a half-million dollars to set up a park and ride in downtown Hastings.
A bill introduced by Sen. Katie Sieben Tuesday could provide a half-million dollars to set up a park and ride in downtown Hastings. Two other bills introduced by Sieben seek to begin preliminary studies and engineering and upgrade rail lines in preparation for a high-speed train from the Twin Cities to Chicago.
Sieben presented the bills to a joint hearing of the Senate’s Airways, Waterways, Railways and Transit subdivisions. The subdivisions were meeting to consider state bonding requests to recommend for possible inclusion in the Senate’s capital investment bill.
The Hastings bill would provide $500,000 in state funding to purchase property and set up a park and ride near the E. Second Street train depot.
“With the construction of the Hastings bridge beginning this summer, residents are going to need transit options to deal with the detours and delays that will come with it,” Sieben said in a press release. “In addition, this park and ride will provide business-investment opportunities for downtown Hastings, something greatly needed in this struggling economy.”
The park and ride is seen as a productive first step in getting the Red Rock Corridor commuter rail line going, because it will set up the necessary infrastructure near the train depot.
“We need to move forward with efforts to advance the Red Rock Corridor, so that we are closer to commuter rail becoming a reality,” Sieben said.
Hastings City Council Member Barb Hollenbeck was on hand at the capitol and spoke in favor of the bill.
The second bill is seeking $10 million for the environmental analysis and preliminary engineering of a high-speed rail between the Twin Cities and Chicago.
“With many opportunities available for funding high-speed rail at the federal level, we need to keep moving forward with our plans to provide service from the Twin Cities to Chicago,” Sieben said. “High-speed rail to Chicago has been identified as the backbone to the development of other rail lines in the state. I’m doing everything I can to ensure that the line comes through Dakota and Washington counties.”
The final piece of legislation authored by Sieben would provide $13.5 million to upgrade the Hoffman Yard in St. Paul. The Statewide Freight and Passenger Rail plan identified this yard as a major bottleneck to transporting freight for both the state and the nation, according to Sieben’s press release.
“Five percent of our nation’s freight passes through Hoffman Yard, so enhancements would have a positive economic impact for businesses all over our state, as well as the country,” Sieben said. “Not only that, but the upgrades to Hoffman Yard would provide the infrastructure changes the corridor needs for high-speed and commuter rail. With this project, we truly get a three-for-one return on our investment.”
Based on the bills presented in the hearing, the subcommittees will develop a list of project funding recommendations to pass along to the Senate Capital Investment Committee for inclusion in the bonding bill.