The Twin Cities remain on track for a high-speed rail connection to Chicago despite an Obama administration decision to withdraw funding for a critical link in Wisconsin, a Minnesota rail planner said Friday.

"Our demise is greatly exaggerated," said Dan Krom, director of the state passenger rail office. "This is one segment of the corridor from the Twin Cities to Chicago and it's not a deal breaker for us at all."

About $1.2 billion in federal money had been reserved for high-speed projects in Wisconsin and Ohio. The U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday awarded those funds to 13 other states -- but not Minnesota -- because Republican governors-elect in Wisconsin and Ohio had promised to kill the projects despite years of planning to build a network of faster trains in the Midwest.

The Wisconsin segment that lost funding -- $810 million from Milwaukee to Madison -- was one of 25 "alignments" under consideration in a Minnesota study to determine the best route to Chicago and what it would cost, Krom said.

The preferred route will be named when the study is completed in June 2012. But "when it gets built is another issue," he said.

One popular route already in place carries Amtrak's Empire Builder between St. Paul and Chicago. Discussions over the prospect of faster and more frequent commuter trains from Minnesota to Chicago often have addressed using those tracks.

The federal decision to divert money intended for Wisconsin was announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who said new rail projects would fortify the manufacturing economy and create jobs.

"I am pleased that so many other states are enthusiastic about the additional support they are receiving to bring America's high-speed rail network to life," he said.

California will get most of the transferred money, about $624 million. Florida will get about $342 million and Washington state about $161 million. Ten other states will get lesser amounts.

Jerry Miller, who chairs the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission, expressed disappointment that Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker opposed the project.

"Connecting our region by high-speed rail will create 15,000 new jobs and economic opportunities for years to come," Miller, who is also mayor of Winona, Minn., said Friday. "By shifting this funding to places like Washington, California and Florida, we are also exporting future private-sector job growth to our neighbors and making the region less competitive."

Both Miller and Krom said they would work with Minnesota Gov.-elect Mark Dayton to seek his support for the rail line.

Numerous counties and cities in Minnesota have expressed interest in faster trains to Chicago. The trains would arrive and depart at a refurbished Union Depot in downtown St. Paul, also a planned hub for the Central Corridor light-rail train that will link with Minneapolis in 2013.

Walker, who takes office in Wisconsin in January, expressed no regret at losing the money. "Wisconsin taxpayers were victorious today in defeating the project," he said Thursday.

But outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle called the news a "tragic moment" and said he was "deeply saddened to see us take a major step backward. We were positioned to be not only the center of the line, but to be a manufacturing center as well. Now we are moving from being the leader to the back of the line."

The Associated Press and New York Times contributed to this report. Kevin Giles • 651-735-3342