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'Mayo is Rochester'

Rochester/Mayo's battle with the DM&E gets a fresh, full take from Reuters news service. Here's the lede:

ROCHESTER, Minnesota (Reuters) - Rochester doesn't mind railroads -- unless there's a possibility that they could disturb the southern Minnesota city's most important resident, the Mayo Clinic.

Both the city government and the world-famous medical center are fighting a $6 billion network expansion by Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad to bring coal to the Midwest from Wyoming's Powder River Basin. The project would include upgrading DM&E's line through Rochester to accommodate heavy coal trains.

"The clinic is the biggest private employer in Minnesota, and we can't have that put at risk," said Dennis Hanson, president of Rochester's city council.

The conflict is emblematic of tensions between U.S. communities and transport companies.

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"People want easy access to goods and services; they want electricity," said Fitch Ratings analyst Stephen Brown. "But they don't want the risk of noise or pollution that may accompany that access."

Locals might take offense at this description:

Today the Mayo Clinic employs 28,000 people in a city of 85,000 and takes up the entire downtown.

"Mayo is Rochester, plain and simple," said Hanson, the city council president.

There are a lot of business people downtown who might (correctly) disagree that Mayo "takes up the entire downtown." Others might say Rochester has more going for it than simply Mayo.

I wonder if Hanson actually said the following, regarding the tunnel:

(The city wants) the Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based company to put a 6-mile (9.7 kilometer) tunnel under the city, a modification that transport analysts said could easily add more than $100 million to the project's cost.

Rochester has fought DM&E's plans in and out of court for eight years, and Hanson said the city would keep doing so unless the tunnel is built.

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