Regional Railroad Authority
The Washington County Regional Railroad Authority (WCRRA) is the Washington County government entity charged with the preservation and improvement of local rail service for agriculture, industry, and passenger traffic and provides for the preservation of abandoned rail right-of-way for future transportation uses. The state law that allowed Washington County to create a Regional Railroad Authority was passed in 1980.
Washington County established its Regional Railroad Authority Nov. 17, 1987, through resolution #87-197. Pursuant to its creation, state statute gives the WCRRA multiple powers and restrictions on those powers for accomplishing its goals. Some of these powers are highlighted below:
- Ability to acquire real and personal property within or outside its taxing jurisdiction
- Ability to hold, manage, control, sell, convey, lease, mortgage, or otherwise dispose of property
- Ability to apply for state and federal funds
- Ability to tax
- Ability to exercise eminent domain
- Ability to collect a fee for use of its property
The WCRRA Board of Commissioners is comprised of the Washington County Board of Commissioners. When it is necessary to hold a WCRRA board meeting, the WCRRA Board holds its meetings in conjunction with the Washington County Board meetings.
Washington County is experiencing increased population growth. In 2000, Washington County had 201,130 people, and by 2030 it is projected to have a population of 344,280.
This growth, along with the existing population, needs to utilize the existing transportation system and its future improvements for moving from place to place. Growth is not limited to Washington County; the Twin Cities will add nearly 1 million people by 2030 and this growth cannot be solely accommodated through highway improvement, and therefore must be accommodated with expansion of and improvements to the existing transit system.
The WCRRA recognizes the need for additional transportation investments and that transit will play an increasingly important role in maintaining the high quality of life enjoyed by county residents. To provide for the implementation of future transit at the least possible cost to county residents, the WCRRA takes a proactive approach to acquiring property.
Property purchases are limited to those parcels which will be necessary for a transit system's implementation. In many cases, this acquisition occurs many years before a system is constructed through purchases of abandoned or ready to be abandoned rail corridors.
By acquiring complete corridors, the WCRRA is able to preserve existing transportation corridors instead of trying to create new corridors in the future. By preserving instead of creating, the WCRRA is able to use its funds in a very cost effective manner. Property acquisitions, future transit implementation, and working with other governmental institutions allows the WCRRA to fulfill its mission of maintaining Washington County residents' high quality of life.