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Northstar Corridor Development Authority crosses fingers for 2005 funding

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is continuing his quest to obtain state funding for the Northstar Corridor Development Authority (NCDA). The proposed commuter-rail line is one of his top capital investment priorities during the 2005 legislative session.

Last May, the state legislature adjourned without approving Pawlenty’s proposal to provide $37.5 million in low-interest bonding to begin preliminary work on the line. He then authorized NCDA to use funds from regional government body Metropolitan Council and some local monies to begin design and property acquisition, and negotiate an agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe to operate over the Class I’s tracks.

State funding is critical in 2005 to secure matching funds from the Federal Transit Administration and keep the project on track to open in 2008, NCDA officials believe. A state commitment also would enable the Minnesota Department of Transportation, NCDA and BNSF to begin final negotiations on necessary track improvements.

The Northstar Corridor’s 40-mile first phase would run along highways 10 and 47 between Minneapolis and Big Lake, Minn. Under a proposed second phase, NCDA would extend the line from Big Lake to St. Cloud.

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More News from 1/7/2005