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Minnesota Legislature

Union Depot funding sought

Published (2/20/2009)
By Mike Cook
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The final piece of a funding package is being requested for a project that could make an historic St. Paul building a hub of multimodal activity.

Ramsey County has received $3.5 million in state bonding funds and is requesting an additional $9 million to complete a state match necessary to receive $50 million in federal funding for the Union Depot renovation.

Sponsored by Rep. Sheldon Johnson (DFL-St. Paul), HF316 was held over Feb. 17 by the House Transportation Finance and Policy Division for possible inclusion in its recommendations to the House Capital Investment Finance Division.

A companion, SF300, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul), awaits action by the Senate Transportation Budget and Policy Division.

“This will provide economic vitality and excitement in our downtown St. Paul as people take advantage of our transportation options,” Johnson said.

Jim McDonough, chairman of the Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority, said that when completed, the Union Depot would serve intercity and Metro Transit buses, bicycle and pedestrian traffic, the Central Corridor light rail line, Greyhound and Jefferson Lines bus service, Amtrak and a potential high-speed train between the building and Chicago. Future commuter rail lines may also be connected to the facility.

An environmental assessment should be completed this spring, said Steve Morris, the authority’s transit project manager. “The environmental documentation is needed to access that $50 million. We are also planning to start preliminary engineering on the property.” Planners hope the facility is operational by 2012.

Built in 1923, the Union Depot served more than 200 passenger trains daily at its peak before closing in 1971. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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