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Northstar Corridor Development Authority puts extension plans on backburner


The Northstar Corridor Development Authority’s (NCDA) Executive Committee recently announced it has put its St. Cloud extension plans on hold.

The authority has planned to extend the Minneapolis-to-Big Lake, Minn., commuter-rail service northwest to St. Cloud since the initial Northstar vision was adopted more than a dozen years ago. Since launching the initial leg of the Northstar Corridor in late 2009, NCDA — along with Metro Transit and the Minnesota Department of Transportation — have been studying the feasibility of the expansion.

However, the recession, high unemployment rates, traffic volume shifts, and gasoline and parking price fluctuations have hampered ridership gowth on the Minneapolis-to-Big Lake segment. In addition, projected ridership and other factors for the St. Cloud extension do not meet strict standards for federal matching funds, and Northstar wouldn’t able to compete against other transit projects currently under development, according to NCDA.

“While we have remained committed to the original vision for Northstar commuter rail service from St. Cloud to downtown Minneapolis, the current data cannot justify the costs of expanding Northstar at this time,” said NCDA member Felix Schmiesing in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/9/2010