From the looks of the slick taxpayer-funded website, you’d think it’s full speed ahead for the Northern Lights Express (NLX), the proposed passenger rail line from the Twin Cities to Duluth. As one of six passenger rail lines for Minnesota, an air of inevitability often seems to surround the controversial line estimated to cost between $650 million and one billion dollars. Yet the route to Duluth runs through Washington with a Congress at a crossroads and ready to derail such projects.
The Anoka County Board of Commissioners announced last week that their 2012 budget would include a reduction of property taxes of $8.14 million, marking a 7.43 percent decrease from the previous year and the first time in 30 years that spending for the next fiscal year will be less than the current budget projections.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN--This lame duck session will be the last for outgoing 18-term Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN). But old habits die hard, including requesting tens of millions of dollars in earmarks in the omnibus appropriations bill before Congress.
Northstar Commuter Rail has been running from Big Lake to Downtown Minneapolis since November 2009. While ridership has been on par with projections by Metro Transit, taxpayers are still subsidizing $80 for every $15 round-trip ticket, according to a Freedom Foundation of Minnesota analysis. Yet Northstar officials and policymakers continue to push an extension of the line to St. Cloud, which would have a major impact on taxpayers.
While the Northstar Commuter Rail line is meeting its start-up ridership goals so far, it may be an uphill climb to double monthly ridership by September as projected, even with passengers paying just a fraction of the heavily subsidized train’s true cost, according to a Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) analysis of the first 100 days of operation.
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