High-speed rail for Mayo Clinic....?
Proponents of a high-speed rail line linking Rochester, Minnesota with the Twin Cities may have gotten a significant boost today.
CNN is reporting that Vice President Joe Biden has announced plans for a $53 billion national investment over the next six years in high-speed rail.
"The proposed new investment -- including $8 billion in the upcoming fiscal year -- would accompany a streamlined application process for cities, states, and private companies seeking federal grants and loans to develop railway capacity," CNN reports.
But the web-savvy news organization notes the proposal faces an up-hill battle to make it through Congress. Even so, the idea that patients might have the ability to hop on a commuter train at the Minneapolis airport and hop back off here in Rochester for a short walk to Mayo Clinic (stopping for lunch perhaps at a restaurant along the way, visiting the Art Center on the way back and then dinner and a concert at the Mayo Civic Center that evening before a return from the hotel the next morning to head back home) will surely excite rail proponents.
Sure, Rochester has its own international airport. But many travelers prefer to fly to the larger Twin Cities hub. The direct connect between Rochester and the Twin Cites has been up for debate, with many believing a route along the Mississippi River would better fit the state's needs.
But Rochester-area advocates have named their train the "Zip Line" and have been pushing hard for the Rochester route. With the amount the Obama administration is now touting for high-speed rail, pending Congressional passage, Mayo Clinic stands poised to have direct Minneapolis-to-Rochester transit.
That might fit well into Mayo's plan to build "The Mayo Clinic Gateway at Mall of America" — a building that is likely to be profound in nature. A Mall of America spokeswoman told me the other day that a hotel will be built first, and then the Mayo Clinic Gateway.
It's hard to know what's being planned, because folks suggest planning is still tentative. But it's clear this will be much larger than a small family clinic. Don't be surprised if Mayo's Gateway is a significant investment and prepares the occasional patient for a Zip Line trip to Rochester.
Pulse on Health
By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists
Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904
Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel