The Star Tribune reported this week that Dakota County Commissioner Kathleen Gaylord has reservations about the so-called Zip Rail — a proposed high-speed passenger train linking the Twin Cities and Rochester — if the train did not make a stop in Dakota County. I don’t mean to sound snarky, but why — exactly — would the train need to stop in Dakota County?
I am afraid that Commissioner Gaylord’s concern for her county is a bit myopic and perhaps misses the point of a high-speed rail line between the two urban areas.
On the one hand is the most obvious point to building the line in the first place. It is meant to be a high-speed link between two urban hubs, not a commuter line stopping at exurban bedroom communities.
Secondly, the economic advantages resulting from smart infrastructure investment need not be direct. In this case, you don’t have to ride the line to benefit from the line. If the Zip Line supports stronger economies in the Twin Cities and Rochester, for example, that benefits people who live in Dakota County as much as any other investment that builds a stronger regional economy for the people who live there.
Dakota County officials identified Rosemount as a possible stop on the line. Why? Is there something special about Rosemount that makes them think people living within a short distance of a rail line have a special propensity to get to Rochester in a hurry — or the Twin Cities — and use high-speed rail to get there?
Probably not. Instead a station in Rosemount — or anywhere else along the line — would simply turn into a speed bump and thereby undercut the overall purpose of the line. Let’s use our heads out there and not let misguided parochialism make issues where none should exist.