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NLX project leaders request $40 million in state funding

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DULUTH, MN -- A project years in the making aims to take another step forward at the state capitol this year.

Those behind the northern lights express, a train connecting Duluth and the Twin Cities are requesting $40 million during this year's legislative session.

Now in 2020, officials say the project is gaining more momentum at the state capitol than ever before.

"This is a crucial year for the northern lights express project to return rail passenger service from Minneapolis to Duluth.", Stated Ken Buehler, Technical Advisory Chair of Northern Lights Express.

A good portion will go toward a third main track between Duluth and St. Paul, and fix the draw bridge between Duluth and Superior.

Leaders, however, already have their eye set on yet another addition to this project to allow further connections including a second train between the twin cities and Chicago.

Representative Mary Murphy has been a part of this project since the beginning and is hoping this is the year NLX becomes reality.

"We're now in the year 2020, the support is there because the people of the country want to connect, and also because Amtrak is the way to go.", Rep. Mary Murphy stated.

With the addition of Amtrak coming on board to run this project once it gets up and running, this allows for the price of the project to be reduced, which brings good news heading to the capitol.

"At one time this was a billion dollar project, but trains were going to go 110 mph they were going to be sleek and everything, with Amtrak coming in we meet the Amtrak standards it would be lower, we lowered it to $550 million", Buehler said.

Murphy says she believes the need is there for this project and with this year's bonding bill shes hopeful.

"People want to be connected, communities want to be connected with other communities.", Murphy said.

The Legislative session will begin Tuesday in St. Paul, and this year the NLX will not be requesting any money from the Wisconsin's legislative session.

Kaitlyn Moffett

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