This past Thursday, after a couple of hours greeting State Fair visitors from the Minnesota Senate booth, I headed south to Savage to step aboard a barge for a trip down the Minnesota and Mississippi River towards St. Paul. The trip was sponsored by the Highway 169 Corridor Coalition as over 100 members made the 3 hour trip. We often think of the Hwy 169 corridor as roads and rail, but we cannot overlook the importance of the river in making this area a truly inter modal transportation network.
The 3 R’s (road, river, and rail) along Hwy 169 are economically vital for funneling freight into the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro Region from the Mankato area and southern Minnesota. This area produces almost half of Minnesota’s corn, soybeans and ethanol, which makes Minnesota third in the nation for production among all states. Other major commodities moving along this corridor include aggregates, clay and sand, hogs, manufactured goods and food products. The corridor connects major producers of ethanol, biodiesel and their byproducts to markets and refiners along ‘ethanol alley,’ the southwest freight corridor formed by Highway 60 and the Union Pacific Railroad.
The Ports of Savage are important for grain exports via the Minnesota and Mississippi River systems, guaranteeing low-cost, competitive transportation to regional and world markets for Minnesota farmers. The corridor is expected to play a future role in expanding access from western Minnesota agricultural producers to the Ports of Savage via routes capable of bypassing Metro congestion. This is good news for the communities in my district along the corridor as we work to put together a long range plan of maximizing economic development for the area.