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Minnesota legislature OKs measure to provide $60 million for Northstar commuter-rail line

All that’s standing between Minneapolis’ Northstar commuter-rail project and $60 million in state funds is the governor’s signature.

Over the weekend, the Minnesota legislature overwhelmingly approved a measure to provide the funds for the state’s first commuter-rail line. Gov. Tim Pawlenty is expected to sign the bill, which will allow the state to seek federal matching funds for the project.

Of Northstar’s $307.3 million price tag, the state will cover 33 percent, including the $60 million and $37.5 million approved last year. Local governments along the proposed 40-mile Minneapolis-to-Big Lake, Minn., line will finance 17 percent of project costs.

The Northstar Corridor Development Authority (NCDA) now will complete a Federal Transit Administration application to obtain a 50 percent federal funding match for the line, which will connect with the Hiawatha light-rail system.

Earlier this month, NCDA, the state of Minnesota and BNSF Railway Co. reached an agreement under which Northstar’s operator will retain trackage rights to use the Class I’s line.

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More News from 5/23/2006