Private company seeks exclusive rights for high-speed rail in Minnesota

July 31, 2015

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is considering granting a private company exclusive rights to lease air space on highways for an elevated high-speed rail line from Rochester to the Twin Cities.

The North American High Speed Rail Group is seeking MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle’s approval for exclusive negotiating rights for two years for portions of I-494, Minnesota Highway 55, U.S. 52, U.S. 63 and Interstate-90, according to documents obtained by the Post-Bulletin from MnDOT under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

The company estimates the project would cost $4.2 billion to build. A sizable amount of that money — $1.4 billion — would come from Chinese investors, according to the documents. North American High Speed Rail Group Chairman Joseph Wang formerly worked for China’s Ministry of Commerce. The company’s business plan states the Minnesota rail project would be “the first in the U.S. to leverage a relationship with China in the (high-speed rail) market.”

The rail group’s spokeswoman, Wendy Meadley, said China is widely considered to have some of the best high-speed rail technology in the world.

“High-speed rail is a technology (the Chinese) are looking to export, so there is an opportunity there to explore with them. We’ve talked to a handful of European countries as well. Our vision is to take whatever foreign technology expertise and Americanize it and create a brand new set of intellectual property,” Meadley said.


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