When Chair Steve Raukar of St. Louis and Lake County’s Regional Railroad Authority, opened the Northern Lights Express (NLX) meeting Weds., May 25, he laughed and said, “How’d everyone like having a month off?”
The April meeting was canceled and during that time, locally, there was some discussion brought forth by the District 2 Commissioner, Mitch Pangerl, at the Pine County Board about whether to continue to participate in the NLX project.
“It’s an easy project to be against,” said Doug Carlson, the Pine County representative of to the NLX Board, who supports NLX. He was one of the three to vote (3-2) in favor of keeping a part of the future high-speed passenger rail discussions in Pine County, and having a seat at the table.
“This project isn’t right for cancelation,” said Bob Manzonline in his administrative report. “It is very much alive right now and moving forward.”
While a specific route is still being determined for the express train connecting Minneapolis and Duluth, NLX but it was recently awarded $5 million to complete engineering and environmental work by the federal government.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation, NLX was one of 22 high-speed intercity passenger rail projects receiving a total of $2.02 billion in federal funds. 24 states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak submitted nearly 100 applications for the funds.
What about commuters?
As for the Rush Line, bus route changes began Feb. 14 of this year for faster weekday commuting into downtown St. Paul and the task force opted to tweak arrival times on the route from Forest Lake.
According to Mike Rogers, senior transporation planner for the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority, many of the changes, intended to build ridership, were suggested by people already riding the route.
Also discussed at the Rush Line Corridor Task Force’s most recent meeting, May 19, was the Chisago-Isanti County Heartland Express bus services. Craig Rempp of Heartland Express noted, “People from Pine City are asking about use of the service.”
Need a ride from Pine City to the Twin Cities?
Presently, Pine City and Pine County are served by Arrowhead Transit‘s but services, which has a stop in Rush City, but doesn’t go any farther south. However, once in Chisago County, one can hook a ride from the Heartland Express to Rush Line’s Route 285, which starts at the Forest Lake Transit Center and also has a stop in Columbus in Anoka County, before proceeding farther into the Twin Cities.