A Spanish train builder will continue to honor a maintenance contract with the state, but company officials are joining the cities of Racine and Milwaukee, arguing that the Walker administration and legislature are making a mistake, by ignoring the potential economic impact of building new trains.
During a press briefing at Racine’s Transit Center, Talgo President Antonio Perez said his company “has been attacked, and caught in the middle of politics.” Racine Mayor John Dickert said the state’s transportation emphasis right now is only on highways, which is short-sighted. “We’re asking Madison, the leaders in Joint Finance, the leaders in the Assembly, leaders in the Senate, to look at the reality,” said Dickert. “Right now, your path for your highway infrastructure system is a path to nowhere. How are we supposed to draw businesses to this community when we don’t have the infrastructure that they’re demanding?”
AUDIO: Perez, Dickert, Hines (1:05)
Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines said the Walker administration and GOP legislative majority talk jobs and development, but reject one way to create them – building new passenger trains. “It’s important for us to get that back on track. We’ve spent a lot of taxpayer dollars, and they would just go to waste, if we’re unable to get the state to reevaluate their position.” said Hines. Talgo spokesperson Nora Friend said “for this Walker administration to be treating any company like this should not be accepted.”
In March, the legislature’s rejected approval for two and-a-half million dollars in bonding, for a train maintenance facility in Milwaukee. That move followed the Walker administration’s decision to oppose a new passenger rail line between Madison and Milwaukee, and reject federal fundng for it. Governor Scott Walker made opposition to project a key component of his campaign.
Tom Karkow, WRJN