Rep. Jim Knoblach (R-St Cloud) voted for the 2006 Capital Investment Bill in his last year of office in 2006 before his return in 2015. The bill contained the initial funding for the Northstar Rail occurred when Knoblach was Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which is the committee which prepares bills for the House Floor. Coincidentally, the Republicans lost the House majority in the 2006 elections.
When first passed the Northstar, was limited to traveling only to Big Lake and not up to St Cloud as Knoblach is now proposing. Advocates did want to see the line continue to St Cloud, but Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) Administration determined they could only secure federal funding up to Big Lake without more state support Republican opposition prevented it from becoming a reality.
We find it interesting that Knoblach, who has an MBA from Harvard, believe the line can now be extended without any more money. This is quite a bit ludicrous because first off the easement rights must be purchased from BNSF, secondly, a station must be built up the line at St Cloud or Rice as first proposed, and finally a round-about or location for storage of the trains at the end of the line must be secured. All of these issues come with a price tag and cannot be overlooked.
We wonder if Knoblach is just making an election year pronouncement or if he is truly serious he needs to make sure the proper amount is contained in the Bonding Bill. If he legitimately would like to see the Northstar enter into St Cloud he really needs to put his money where his mouth is and in this case, this would be an expansion of the bill not something that should be taken from other areas. In this case, the DFL would join with him for expanding the bill for transit purposes.
Otherwise it is only election year campaign rhetoric.