ANOKA, Minn. — Northstar Commuter Rail leaders said they were pleased to hear this week that the conference report for the fiscal year 2008 federal transportation appropriations bill recommends $55 million for Northstar construction.
Of the 40 new rail projects in the report, Northstar ranked 10th highest in total recommended dollars.
“Northstar’s ranking in the bill demonstrates how important this project is to our country’s transportation system,” said Dan Erhart, chair of the Northstar Corridor Development Authority (NCDA). “We have our Congressional delegation to thank for this good news, primarily Senators Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar, and Representatives Jim Oberstar and Keith Ellison.”
The House of Representatives approved the compromise bill on November 14. The Senate is expected to act on it following the Thanksgiving recess. It will then be forwarded to the President. The $55 million for Northstar is part of the $156 million total federal contribution for the project.
The 40-mile, Northstar Commuter Rail line will run on existing BNSF Railway tracks between downtown Minneapolis and Big Lake. Rides will be available during the rush hours, Monday through Friday, with limited service on weekends and for some special events. When Northstar opens in late 2009, it will have the capacity to provide more than 2 million rides each year.
The project is a joint effort of the NCDA, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Council.
Northstar Commuter Rail is proposed in an 80-mile corridor between downtown Minneapolis and St. Cloud. Phase One of the project is commuter rail service on the 40-mile segment of existing track along Highways 10 and 47 from Big Lake to Minneapolis.