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Dayton wants environmental study on ‘high hazard’ trains in Twin Cities

The Canadian Pacific and BNSF Railway want to bring oil trains through Minneapolis and western suburbs, but the federal Surface Transportation Board must approve it first.

Gov. Mark Dayton has asked for an environmental review of a railroad proposal that would build a connecting track in Crystal to accommodate more of what he calls “high hazard” train traffic.

If built, oil trains from North Dakota would move through the area, he said.

In a letter to the federal Surface Transportation Board, which must approve the proposal, Dayton says:

“The proposed new connection directly impacts the cities of Crystal, Robbinsdale, New Hope, Golden Valley, Plymouth, and Minneapolis because a high volume of mainline traffic, including High Hazard unit trains originating in the Bakken oil fields, would be diverted onto a lightly constructed and maintained single track line. This traffic would travel through downtown Minneapolis and residential communities that have not previously been exposed to such traffic.”

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He asks the board for a full environmental impact statement on the proposal, and wants the state Department of Transportation, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the affected cities to be involved.

The city of Crystal has also asked the Surface Transportation Board for an environmental impact statement (EIS).

Dayton said that the railroads may seek an exemption to avoid an EIS, and if so, the state wants to weigh in against it.