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MnDOT receives more than 2,500 NLX surveys

More than 2,500 ridership surveys have been filled out concerning the proposed Northern Lights Express passenger rail plan between Duluth and Minneapolis. The level of interest is three times higher than what the Minnesota Department of Transportation expected, spokeswoman Mary McFarland said.

“It shows people are really passionate about it,” she said.

The survey period closed March 15. It was conducted by a firm hired by MnDOT to update ridership forecasts, revenue projections and estimates of public benefits.

The ridership study included the survey asking about ridership preferences for proposed train versus car, bus or airline travel. Random households in the route corridor were called and a survey team went out to public meeting places such as Miller Hill Mall to ask questions. People who are on email lists regarding NLX news also were reminded to take the survey.

“It had some legs,” McFarland said of the outreach that brought in so many responses.

A joint-powers board made up of representatives from counties and cities along the proposed route, roughly running along the Interstate 35 corridor from Duluth to the Twin Cities area, was formed in 2008. Several technical studies have been conducted since then, and more are scheduled through 2015.