Leaders of two communities affected by plans for high speed passenger rail express their support.

The Mayors of Oconomowoc and Watertown join WISPIRG and the High Speed Rail Association of Wisconsin, hammering home the benefits of the train to Wisconsin.

Watertown Mayor Ron Krueger is thrilled about having the train stop in his town. “We are looking at this as a once in a lifetime opportunity. We can do economic development across a wide sector of areas. We are planning on retail commercial growth,  housing development, industrial development, tourism.”

It was announced last month that 31 states would receive a portion of $8 billion in federal stimulus funds allotted for high speed passenger rail projects. Wisconsin received $810 million to build a Milwaukee-to-Madison line.

Oconomowoc Mayor Maury Sullivan is already envisioning a station in his town. “Our train station that we intend to build is going to be located in the downtown Oconomowoc area. We see that as an economic benefit for retailing and commerce in our area.”

Construction of the Milwaukee-to-Madison line is scheduled to begin by the end of this year, and should be completed by January 2013. Wisconsin got another $12 million to improve the Milwaukee to Chicago line and another $1 million for planning purposes for a future line to Mpls.

WISPIRG released its new research report, The Right Track, showing the benefits of high speed rail and setting 11 recommendations for future investment.

Critics point to the long term costs, including the need for government subsidies and the lack of ridership.

The Legislative Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 Tuesday to accept the federal funding.

Jackie Johnson report 1:39

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