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It took years for Minnesota’s Northstar Corridor Development Authority (NCDA) to secure funding for its $317 million commuter-rail line, but the final piece fell into place last month.
The Federal Transit Administration signed a $156 million Full Funding Grant Agreement, which enabled the state of Minnesota to release another $97.5 million in bonds.
NCDA will use the funds to purchase 22 commuter-rail vehicles, two light-rail vehicles, fare-collection equipment and real estate, and build five stations and a vehicle maintenance facility.
Scheduled to open in 2010, the 40-mile Northstar Corridor will run along existing BNSF Railway Co. tracks between Big Lake, Minn., and the Twin Cities. The line is the first phase of a proposed 82-mile corridor, which would run from downtown Minneapolis to Rice, Minn. By 2025, more than 850,000 people are expected to live along the corridor, 200,000 more than reside in the area currently.
The project also includes a Hiawatha light-rail extension to a new intermodal station at 5th Avenue North in downtown Minneapolis, enabling passengers to transfer between light- and commuter-rail, and bus service.