The lead article in the April 10 Star News headlined “Lawmakers pitch mothballing Northstar” reports that several legislators are moving to shut it down because of a precipitous drop in ridership. There is no denying that Northstar was a financial victim of COVID like countless people and businesses.

But shutting it down isn’t the answer. It’s an opportunistic attempt by conservative legislators to get rid of progressive infrastructure they never favored in the first place. A look at the history of Northstar bears this out.

The article quotes Rep. Erin Koegel reminding us that the Legislature looked at extending Northstar to St. Cloud in the last biennium. Truthfully, we have to refer back to the original proposal, rather than the last biennium. Originally, Northstar was supposed to run from Rice, north of St. Cloud, to the cities. Such a route would have enabled people living in Rice to commute to St. Cloud or the Cities for college or work. It would also have enabled people in the Cities to commute to St. Cloud and towns in between for college or work.

But opponents fought and succeeded in watering it down, and I have no doubt they fully understood doing so would make it difficult for the shorter Northstar route to be financially viable. One argument against Northstar was even that it would bring crime to Sherburne County communities. That never happened. So these same opponents are now taking advantage of COVID to accomplish what they couldn’t before.

Northstar is a progressive infrastructure concept. But it becomes more important as climate change forces us to let go of fossil fuel reliant transportation. — Nancy Hussett, Big Lake

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