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The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is soliciting public comment on its statewide freight system plan through June 24, the department announced yesterday.A public meeting on the plan will be held May 25 in St. Paul. The plan — which was developed with input from private companies and other public entities — provides a policy framework and strategies for MnDOT and other freight stakeholders to guide improvements to the multimodal system, including rail. The plan also features an "action agenda" with 30 strategies for advancing freight in Minnesota.By 2040, annual freight tonnage in Minnesota is expected to increase significantly, placing greater stress on an already congested system, MnDOT officials said in a press release.Minnesota's rail network is composed of 21 freight and passenger operators. Class Is that operate in the state are BNSF Railway Co., Union Pacific Railroad, CN and Canadian Pacific. There are also 17 regional, short line, terminal and switching railroads in the state, according to the report.In 2012, traffic originating, terminating, or going through Minnesota’s Class I railroads accounted for 251 million tons carried in 3.9 million rail units — 99 percent of the state’s rail volume. Traffic on the short lines accounted for the remaining 1 percent. By 2040, the Class I traffic is projected to grow faster than the short line traffic, accounting for 99 percent of the tonnage and rail units, the report states.
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