Top U.S.Transit Official Attends Northstar Commuter Rail Grand Opening and ‘Ride the Rails’

Contact: Paul Griffo
Telephone: (202) 366-4064

Federal Transit Administrator (FTA) Peter Rogoff joined members of the Minnesota Congressional Delegation, state and local transit officials and the Northstar Corridor Development Authority (NCDA) to celebrate the grand opening of the 40-mile Northstar Commuter Rail Line from Big Lake to Downtown Minneapolis.  Administrator Rogoff participated in the inaugural ride of Minnesota’s first commuter rail line departing Big Lake Station and continuing to the Target Field Station, Downtown Minneapolis.

“I’m truly excited to see commuter rail become a reality in Minnesota,” said Secretary Ray LaHood.  “By investing in our nation’s transit infrastructure, we are making our communities more livable, invigorating the local economy and providing Minnesotans a choice in how they travel.”

“The Northstar commuter rail line embodies the Obama Administration’s vision for public transportation by connecting communities in a congested corridor and providing an important link to a broader transit network in Minneapolis,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff.  “This commuter rail line will give people choices and spur economic recovery all the way from Big Lake to the Central Business District, while bolstering all the communities along the way.”

In 2007, the FTA signed a $317 million full funding grant agreement, which includes $156 million in federal New Starts funds, to build the 40-mile commuter rail line that connects downtown Minneapolis’ central business district to the Town of Big Lake using the existing Burlington Santa Fe tracks. The project includes an extension of the existing Hiawatha Light Rail line to a new intermodal station at 5th Avenue North in downtown Minneapolis, which will allow Northstar riders to easily transfer to light rail and nearby bus service.

The completion of this project consisted of 23 commuter rail vehicles, two light-rail vehicles, fare collection equipment, real estate, construction of five commuter rail stations with 1,900 park and ride spaces and a vehicle maintenance facility.

The line will carry approximately 3,400 passengers a day and is expected to carry 5,900 passengers daily by 2030. By 2030, more than 825,000 people are expected to be living in the corridor, an increase of about 200,000 people.

The Northstar Commuter Rail Line, operated by Metro Transit, will provide service starting Monday, Nov. 16, 2009.  Northstar trains will offer commuter service during peak morning and evening week day rush hours, provide regular weekend and special events service.

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