District 6 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 southeastern Minnesota, District 6 has a diverse industrial base consisting of manufacturing, construction, healthcare, education, transportation, agriculture and forestry. The district’s diverse economy and growing population combined with strong tourism, contribute to unique transportation challenges for this region. Unique regional freight issues in District 6 include access to intermodal ports and infrastructure, cross-border uniformity, and crude by rail. Major commodities include coal, non-metallic minerals, and transportation equipment.
Multimodal Freight Planning
In 2013, MnDOT initiated a pilot project in southwest and west central Minnesota in order to better understand freight customers’ transportation priorities and challenges, and to incorporate their input into MnDOT’s planning and project development. The Manufacturers’ Perspectives on Minnesota’s Transportation System: A Pilot Study in Southwest and West Central Minnesota was completed in February 2014.
The Central Minnesota Regional Freight Study (PDF) (2012) identified significant industry trends, highlighted commercial logistics issues, and suggested improvements in goods movement for Minnesota industries.
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 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 6 - Minnesota District 6 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
District 6 has two active ports on the Mississippi River: Red Wing and Winona. The Mississippi River System stretches over 195 miles in Minnesota and supports four port areas whose combined 2016 tonnage was 14.7 million net tons. The River accounts for over 50 percent of Minnesota’s agricultural exports. The Mississippi River Navigation System is maintained by the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
The Minnesota Port Development Assistance Program 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.