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Regional Railroad Authority

The Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA) was established in 1980 as a political subdivision and local government unit of Minnesota. It was established as a separate political entity to plan, design and implement light rail transit in Hennepin County. The Board of Commissioners for the authority consists of the seven members of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.

Meetings are generally held immediately after regular County Board meetings on Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. Meetings will be hosted virtually until further notice. Details for specific meetings can be found our our board meetings webpage.

Questions about agenda items may be directed to the clerk at 612-348-3081.

 
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The 2022 HCRRA budget is $30.7 million, with a property tax levy of $31 million. The HCRRA seeks to improve rail modes of transportation to enhance mobility as a key part of our transportation system.

2022 Regional Railroad Authority budget (PDF)

The Railroad Authority currently owns 43 miles of corridors, seven sites suitable for future park-and-rides, stations, or transit-oriented development; and two railroad depots.

The corridors (PDF) include:

Although acquired for future transportation needs, recreational trails have been constructed on these corridors as an interim use. In 2008, with the construction of the the Dakota Rail and Northeast Diagonal corridors, all 43 miles of corridors are devoted to interim use.

Permits

Land use permits may be granted for certain non-exclusive uses of HCRRA land, such as minor utility installations, public events, landscaping improvements and more.

Permits will not be granted for storage, placement of equipment, structures such as fences and sheds, parking, dumping of waste — including landscaping waste or grass clippings — or patios or other impervious surfaces. HCRRA land should not be used for any of these items, nor should it be used for the storage of recreational equipment, motor vehicles, trailers or boats.

People with property adjacent to HCRRA land may request permits for landscaping improvements. Any improvements to HCRRA land must be approved by HCRRA and should focus on benefiting wildlife and pollinators and improving water quality.

Landscaping improvements should emphasize native plantings that have deep roots and are drought resistant, as well as trees and shrubs that provide shade and protection for wildlife habitats and reduce soil erosion. Ideally, landscaping should use different types of plantings, trees and shrubs to reduce disease risk, for seasonal interest and to enhance habitats. HCRRA can provide information about these improvements upon request at hcrra@hennepin.us.

Do not undertake any landscaping or other improvements until after receiving a permit. HCRRA may remove any unauthorized use at the violator’s expense.

Submit a permit request.

Partners

The authority collaborates with many government agencies and a variety of public and nonprofit partners to promote transit development and implement interim uses of rail corridors.

HCRRA-owned corridors have found popular interim uses as bicycle and pedestrian trails. However, by statute the HCRRA cannot construct or operate recreational trails, so it partners with the City of Minneapolis and Three Rivers Park District to operate and maintain trails such as the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis and the Dakota Rail Regional Trail which runs through seven municipalities in western Hennepin County.

Background

When established in 1980, the HCRRA's mission was to acquire abandoned railroad corridors in order to preserve them for future transportation use. Today, the HCRRA continues this mission, as well as advocating, planning, and funding rail transportation corridors which will serve the county and the region. The HCRRA is one of several regional railroad authorities in Minnesota.

As a unit of government, the HCRRA has authority to establish levies to fund rail transit projects. HCRRA was a capital investment partner in the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line, contributing $84.2 million toward design and construction (11.8 percent of the total capital investment).

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