LS&MR faced with a proposal from Duluth that would shorten their - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

LS&MR faced with a proposal from Duluth that would shorten their route

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The Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad has been chugging through months of uncertainty while Duluth city officials work through their Western Waterfront Trail Master Plan.

Now, members of LS&MR have expressed some concerns with the city's most recent proposed plan for Duluth's oldest railroad. 

That proposal is to stop the rail at the Mud Lake Causeway, cutting the rail about 25% short of their current route. 

"I think removing the last two miles of our extension over the most beautiful part of our rail adventure would be detrimental to our operations, and removes one of the most scenic, and historic parts of our line," said LS&MR Railroad Acting Secretary Harold Dols. 

The city is working not only to increase connectivity from adjacent neighborhoods to the Saint Louis River and Estuary, but to improve access to 5 access points on the river, while also allowing U.S Steel to re-mediate their former sites. 

"Terminating at Mud Lake Allows us to do a very extensive river restoration through the Mud Lake Causeway area," said Lisa Luokkala Project Coordinator for Duluth Parks & Recreation Department. 

Luokkala said this proposal will allow them to balance the values between recreation, natural restoration of the shoreline, as well as preserve the historic rail. 

"It allows us to do a little bit of everything for everyone, but it doesn't allow us to do everything for everyone. So, unfortunately there's no win-win-win in this story line," Said Luokkala. 

Spokespeople for the railroad say they are in full support of the cleanup needed, as well as restoration of the shoreline - but they feel the city can do those things, and keep their rail on track. 

Dols said, "It's a historic, beautiful, natural, historical narrative that we provide to the city of Duluth, and it's worthy of preservation, the entire line along there, and we feel that we can have both." 

Rail Spokespersons also say cutting the trail short would hurt their business model because it would force them to lower ticket prices.

Much of the rail bed is owned by the city, and leased to LS&MR. 

City officials say the city will be moving forward with a mini master plan, which will be posted for a two week public comment period. 

From there, the parks commission will receive it some time in August, before city council would vote on the plan. 

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