District 1 freight, rail and waterways
The Minnesota Department of Transportation improves the performance of the multimodal freight transportation system serving Minnesota by planning and delivering freight infrastructure projects, and by ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations. Within MnDOT, the Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations works to carry out these goals throughout the state in coordination with the regional district office.
In northeastern Minnesota, District 1 is unique being home to three Lake Superior ports on the Great Lake St. Lawrence Seaway System, providing access from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Truck and rail also contribute to the transport of goods and services throughout the state.
The major industries of northeastern Minnesota are forestry, mining, shipping and tourism. The largest commodity group exported out of the region is metallic ores, which accounts for 65 percent of all outbound tonnage. Lumber and wood products are the second largest commodity group exported out of the region.
Multimodal freight planning
The 2018 Statewide Freight System and Investment Plan provides a policy framework for MnDOT and other freight stakeholders on future freight trends, performance of the freight transportation system and current and future freight issues and needs throughout the state. This statewide modal plan was developed cooperatively with the Minnesota Freight Advisory Committee and other public and private entities. It also includes the statewide investment approach for expending future freight construction projects for dollars apportioned to Minnesota through the National Highway Freight Program in accordance with federal requirements in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act and the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act.
As part of the implementation of the state’s freight plan, MnDOT has committed to developing regional district freight plans to further inform future capital investments in freight related projects in each area of the state. These District Freight Plans will also help to provide broad outreach to freight stakeholders, including shippers, carriers, manufacturers, ports and waterways, railroads and others. In addition, these efforts will be used to help create the next update to the state’s freight plan by increasing the effectiveness of MnDOT’s multimodal freight planning.
For more information concerning MnDOT’s major freight efforts in District 1 - Minnesota District 1 Freight Plan.
In addition, to MnDOT’s major freight plans, the agency has also conducted stakeholder outreach targeted toward Minnesota’s manufacturing businesses to better understand their feedback and concerns about the existing transportation system. These efforts, called the Manufacturers' Perspectives studies help to identify low-cost, high benefit projects to respond to operational needs as well as maintenance, communication, permitting and policy concerns.
Ports and waterways
Minnesota has three active ports on Lake Superior: Duluth/Superior, Two Harbors and Silver Bay. They are a part of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System, providing access to the rest of the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Minnesota Port Development Assistance Program (PDAP) provides the state’s public port authorities with capital investment funding assistance through grants. It's administered by MnDOT's Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations.