Bill Funds Study To Bring Northstar to St. Cloud

Bill Funds Study To Bring Northstar to St. Cloud Click to Enlarge Photo: Metro Transit

(KNSI) - A local lawmaker says the latest transportation bill includes money to get Northstar Commuter Rail Service one step closer to St. Cloud.

Democrat St. Cloud Representative Dan Wolgamott is the author of the legislation included in the compromised transportation budget put together by House and Senate members on Wednesday.

The bill gets money to do an assessment on extending the Northstar to St. Cloud.

Wolgamott says the funding will go toward understanding the project's validity, assessing stakeholders support, funding mechanisms, determining estimated project costs, and obtaining the information the state needs to begin negotiations with BNSF Railway.

He says after years of inaction; the state is finally getting on the right track.

Wolgamott says he will be enthusiastically voting for the transportation budget, and will continue to be a tireless advocate to bring Northstar to St. Cloud.

Other things included in the transportation bill include an additional $275 million over the current budget for statewide road construction, delivery, and maintenance.

The agreement calls for increased funding for the federally-mandated Metro Mobility to expand its services to the Lakeville area, as well as funds for the legislative auditor to act as a watchdog on the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety.

The deal also resolves the fatally-flawed Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), including $55 million for replacement software and $13 million in aid for deputy registrars hurt by its failure.

Protections for suburban transit funding is included in the budget, as are reimbursements to local law enforcement for the purchase of soft body armor.

Finally, provisions in the bill requires drivers to move over to let others pass in the left lane of traffic and grants local governments the authority to alter speed limits on local roadways.