St. Paul, Minn. — The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on the Tier 2 Project Level Environmental Assessment for the Northern Lights Express (NLX) Higher-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Project between Minneapolis and Duluth, Minn., on Feb. 20, 2018. FRA’s issuance of a FONSI indicates that the NLX Project will not have significant environmental impacts and can proceed to seek funding for final design and construction.

FRA and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, prepared a Tier 2 EA for the NLX Project, which examined the 152-mile project corridor relative to social, economic and environmental impacts. The document was available for public comment from April 24 to May 24, 2017, and comments were taken into consideration by FRA in preparation of, and included in, the FONSI.

Under the State of Minnesota’s environmental review process, MnDOT, serving as the Responsible Governmental Unit, has also issued a Findings of Facts and Conclusions, and a Negative Declaration, indicating that a state Environmental Impact Statement is not required. These documents are available at the MnDOT website:

The proposed project includes constructing the necessary infrastructure for, and operation of, an approximately 152-mile-long, 90-mph, higher-speed intercity passenger rail service between Minneapolis and Duluth, Minn., a portion of which will travel through Douglas County in Wisconsin. Stations are proposed in six communities: Minneapolis, Coon Rapids, Cambridge, Hinckley, and Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis. In addition, the proposed NLX project would include one maintenance facility and one layover facility, which may be on separate sites in Sandstone and Duluth, or co-located on one site in Duluth.

MnDOT will continue to work with FRA to identify funding to support final design and construction of NLX.