Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Congressional Update


Metro District 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.

Metro District has a diverse industry base consisting of manufacturing, construction, financial services, healthcare, retail trade, education, transportation, and agriculture. The Twin Cities is a regional center for commerce and is a hub for rail and highway networks that serve much of the rest of the state and region, which contributes to unique transportation challenges for the district. Regional freight issues in Metro include traffic congestion and travel time reliability, access to intermodal ports and infrastructure (including first- and last-mile connections), and rail crossing safety.

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 the Metro District - Minnesota Metro District 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.

Minnesota Rail Service Improvement Program

Minnesota has connections with four of the major Class I railroads, as well as a number of Class II and Class III railroads that provide service to regions throughout the state.

The Minnesota Rail Service Improvement Program was established in 1976 and is designed to rehabilitate deteriorating rail lines, improve rail-shipping opportunities and preserve and maintain abandoned rail corridors for future transportation uses. It provides financial assistance for the improvement of rail service in the state and is managed by the Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations.

Ports and Waterways

The Metro District has ports on the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. The St. Paul Port Authority owns and manages four ports on the Mississippi River. More than a dozen privately-owned terminals operate on the Mississippi River below St. Paul and on the Minnesota River in Savage. With the closure of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in 2015, the City of Minneapolis ceased river operations at its port in north Minneapolis.

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.

Visit the MnDOT Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations for information on statewide freight plans and studies.