Proposed Extensions and Stations
Proposed Extensions and Stations
St. Cloud Extension
In 2004, the project was shortened from 82 miles to 40 miles to qualify for 50 percent federal funds. However, support among residents and businesses remains strong for extending rail service to the St. Cloud area. Results from a 2010 online survey administered to Northstar Commuter Rail customers and the general public found that 79 percent of respondents support government funding to extend rail service to St. Cloud.
In 2007, the Northstar Corridor Development Authority (NCDA) appointed a subcommittee of county and city representatives from its board to explore options for extending commuter rail service to St. Cloud.
As a logical first step in building ridership, in 2009, the Northstar Link Commuter Bus service, operated by St. Cloud Metro Bus, began transporting commuters from St. Cloud to the Northstar station in Big Lake.
In 2010, the NCDA completed a thorough review of the extension’s chances to compete for federal funding. They, and their partners, concluded the project likely would not be successful at that time. In order to make the case for federal funding in the future, the NCDA is focusing on building ridership on the Link bus and the train. They also are fostering transit-oriented development along the corridor.
In 2011, the NCDA began working with station communities on a small grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. The work continues in 2012.
The NCDA is committed to finishing its initial plans and extending commuter rail service to St. Cloud. For updates, visit Service News and Updates.
Additional Stations: Becker, Coon Rapids, Ramsey, and St. Cloud
The NCDA is staying true to its original vision by supporting the completion of Northstar Commuter Rail to St. Cloud and the construction of additional stations.
Prior to shortening of the Northstar Line in 2004, the NCDA identified several preferred station locations, based on population trends and the desire to maximize rail operations. Commuter rail stations at St. Cloud, Becker, Ramsey and Coon Rapids-Foley Boulevard were placed on hold so the project could meet the requirements for federal funding. However, the NCDA remains committed to completing the project -- and has restated that commitment by passing resolutions as recently as 2009.
In 2012, the Ramsey Station is under construction using a blend of funding from the state, Met Council, Counties Transit Improvement Board, Anoka County, and City of Ramsey. It is scheduled to open by the end of 2012. No timeline is set for the other stations.
Next steps to extend commuter rail service
While the federal government, State of Minnesota and metro area governments have committed significant resources to transit and transportation improvements, competition for funding is fierce. For any Northstar service expansions to become a reality, multiple steps must be taken.
In addition to demonstrating ridership potential, the NCDA or the proposing agencies need to secure funding and approval for:
Northstar supporters are encouraged to be vocal about their support and their communities’ needs for expanded transit service. If you would like to help pursue the extension of Northstar Commuter Rail, take action today!
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