Tom Barrett is firing back at Republican criticisms of high speed rail. The Democratic candidate for governor say it’s a good thing Mark Neumann and Scott Walker weren’t around when President Eisenhower proposed an earlier transportation project. “With this line of thinking, we would have said no to the federal dollars to create the Interstate Highway System, because the federal government refused to plow the snow” said Barrett in response to Walker and Neumann claims that the high speed rail will likely require future state subsidies.
Neuman has said money being spent on high speed rail would have been better used on tax cuts, and that if high speed rail were economically sound it would already have been built by the private sector. Walker has said he’d shut down the Madison to Milwaukee line if takes money away from road projects. Barrett said the money — $800 million for development of the Madison to Milwaukee line — would go elsewhere if Wisconsin had not accepted it. Barrett also said high speed rail is an investment in the future – a future which may include a return to high gasoline prices. “When we come out of the recession, the demand for oil . . . is going to put more and more pressure on the price of gasoline and oil, and I think it’s going to make rail even more competitive than it is today.”
Barrett, in an interview with WRN during a campaign stop in Madison, also noted that passenger rail has enjoyed bipartisan support in the past: former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson was an early advocate of high speed rail.