For about half-an-hour Sept. 13, the city of Ramsey showed other county elected officials a glimpse of development that has occurred at Northstar Commuter Rail station.
The reason that members of county boards and other officials from Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties were in Ramsey was to “see the product of our work” and “familiarize colleagues with what’s going on,” said Peter McLaughlin, chairperson of the five-year-old Counties Transit Improvement Board and a member of the Hennepin County Board.
Since April 2008, the Counties Transit Improvement Board has utilized a quarter-cent sales tax and a $20 motor vehicle sales tax in five metropolitan counties, excluding Carver and Scott, to invest in transit projects such as Northstar Commuter Rail, Cedar Avenue bus rapid transit from Lakeville to Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Central Corridor light rail line from Minneapolis to St. Paul and the Hiawatha light rail line.
The board collaborates with Scott and Carver counties and the Metropolitan Council.
According to the Counties Transit Improvement Board website, it contributed $9.9 million for construction of the Fridley rail station, $1 million for the planning of the Ramsey rail station and $15.2 million in operating grants. It committed to funding 50 percent of the operating subsidy for the Northstar Commuter Rail project.
The board also may provide a grant to help move the Highway 10 and Armstrong Boulevard interchange forward. McLaughlin said Matt Look, member of the Counties Transit Improvement Board and an Anoka County commissioner, has pointed out the importance of this intersection to him.
When asked if the Counties Transit Improvement Board would be making a contribution, McLaughlin said, “I’m positive that will happen.” The timing and contribution amount has yet to be finalized, however.
The Residence at the COR is a 230-unit luxury apartment complex constructed by the rail station and this is what the Counties Transit Improvement Board toured Sept. 13. There were short remarks from Ramsey City Administrator Kurt Ulrich and Development Services Manager Tim Gladhill in the facility’s central courtyard which has a salt water pool, an outdoor living room and grills before the group toured some of the units and walked through the skyway to the rail station.
“Since the investment in the rail station and the rail station opening, that resulted directly in almost 300 housing units not only from (The Residence), but a project known as Seasons of Ramsey and some other housing developments that have got underway, each citing the opening of the rail station as one of the key factor as why they’re here today,” Gladhill said.
According to Gladhill, there have been other projects built or planning to be constructed such as the Veterans Affairs clinic, the Allina medical clinic, a 500-seat auditorium for Northgate Church and a McDonalds.
Ulrich informed the council recently that the SuperAmerica convenience gas station will not be developed.
The Counties Transit Improvement Board started its day at the Union Depot station in St. Paul and toured the Central Corridor transit line along University Avenue before taking a Northstar commuter bus to Ramsey.
It took the Northstar commuter train to Target Field in Minneapolis where The Interchange project will be the central hub of the Northstar, Hiawatha and Central Corridor rail lines and the planned Bottineau line to Osseo and Southwest line to Eden Prairie.
From Target Field, the Counties Transit Improvement Board took the Hiawatha line, which Metro Transit now calls the Blue Line, to the Mall of America. They next hopped on a buses to take the Orange Line I-35W and then Red Line Cedar Avenue bus rapid transit corridors before boarding a coach bus to be taken back to the Union Depot in St. Paul for a joint metropolitan county regional rail authority meeting.
Eric Hagen is at