Governor Jim Doyle and local officials announced a final location for a high speed rail station in downtown Madison on Thursday, and the governor again dismissed the threats of Republican candidates for governor who’ve threatened to pull the plug on the Madison to Milwaukee service if elected. “We are entering into the appropriate agreements with the federal government,” said Doyle. “I guess short of sitting down in the front of the federal government and defying the federal government, I don’t think it’s realistic to say that this project would stop.”
In a statement, Republican candidate for governor, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, once again said he’d stop what he calls a “misguided and wasteful project.” Trains are projected to begin running between Madison and Milwaukee in 2013, and Democratic candidate for governor, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, is fully supportive. “Every announcement by Governor Doyle and Mayor Barrett on their controversial train boondoggle further commits our state to their pet project that taxpayers literally cannot afford,” said Walker.
“It’s a nice thing to say in a political campaign, maybe. I don’t understand the politics of it,” Doyle said of statements Walker and the other Republican candidate, former congressman Mark Neumann, have made against the project. “But, as a practical reality, you have agreements with the federal government on what is fundamentally a federal project. I think it’s pretty hard to stop that.” Doyle compared plans for a national high speed rail network to the existing interstate highway system, noting that it would have been extremely difficult for an individual state to withdraw from that project.
Doyle, along with Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, announced that Madison’s high speed rail station will be located in an existing state office building. Doyle said the location, on the ground floor of the Department of Administration building, will be cost effective. “This choice is one that really helps on the cost issue,” said Doyle. “You’re dealing with a very good structure, a very good building. It has a lot of what we already need, and it obviously is much cheaper than if you were talking about tearing a building down and putting a new building up.” There were no immediate details on a cost for the station, but Wisconsin is receiving $810 million to build high speed passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Madison.