Wisconsin’s high-speed rail projects will receive $822 million in federal stimulus funds, according to an announcement from the state’s U.S. Senators, Democrats Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold. Of that total, $810 million will be directed to the Madison-Milwaukee corridor and $12 million to the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor. Last July, the state of Wisconsin signed a deal with Spanish train manufacturer Talgo, to purchase two new train sets at a cost of $47 million The 14-car passenger trains will replace Amtrak Hiawatha trains running from Milwaukee to Chicago.
According to the Department of Transportation, the $810 million in funds allocated to the Madison-Milwaukee project will be used for construction of track, passenger stations, signaling and other infrastructure improvements to extend the existing Amtrak Hiawatha service between Chicago and Milwaukee to Madison. The project is expected to result in increased ridership and improved on-time performance. The $12 million in funds directed to the Milwaukee-Chicago project will be used for the installation of crossovers between Chicago and Milwaukee to improve on-time performance for the Amtrak Hiawatha and Empire Builder services, and for construction to extend the platform at the Milwaukee Airport Station, which will reduce travel times on the Amtrak Hiawatha and Empire Builder services by allowing trains longer than the current platform to board and deboard faster.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included $8 billion for high-speed rail projects. Wisconsin applied for funding under the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program. According to the State’s application, this would create thousands of jobs in the state, along with clearing congestion on highways and airports and providing an environmentally friendly transportation alternative.