Local officials have seen a potential solution to a problem for years, but have been unable to act.
For the first time in over 20 years, the state will be now able to study the Dan Patch rail line, which runs north-south through Savage and connects to Minneapolis, after legislation introduced by state Rep. Jess Hanson (DFL-Burnsville), and state Sen. Lindsey Port (DFL-Burnsville) passed during the final days of session.
“We are grateful for Rep. Hanson’s work on this,” Savage City Administrator Brad Larson said. “Scott County is a fast growing region of the metro, and it only makes sense to be able to study all transit options.”
Larson said by 2040 there are expected to be over 50,000 people moving to Scott County, which means more cars on the road.
Larson explained that under the moratorium, regional rail authorities weren’t allowed to study the rail line, or even discuss it.
“We have seen plans from MNDOT that literally have said ‘the Dan Patch Rail Line may be an option but we can’t look at it because there’s a gag order,’” Larson said.
Larson previously told Southwest News Media how a study was done by the city at one point, but it was “really pointless if there is no support from the state at the state level, and they can’t do that without studying it.”
One of the questions brought up by members of the community and other observersis whether or not a trail could be put in place of the rail line, or if it could be a river crossing for cars. At one point in time there was a one lane road for cars, Larson said.
While there could be potential for a trail there, Larson pointed out that the rail line is still being used to transport freight, which could make it difficult.
“That’s what we evaluated and what we found was the demand for a river crossing there would be so great that the roadway system that connects the river crossing wouldn’t be able to support the demand,” Larson said.
Laron said the legislation simply means the issue can be studied, emphasizing that the legislation means nothing other than the ability to study the issue.