The state’s transportation agency wants your opinion on railroads in Wisconsin. WiDOT is developing a statewide, long-range rail plan, the Wisconsin Rail Plan 2030 (PDF), to address rail needs. “The information that we receive from the questionnaire will help us understand better what the public is interested in and what the top issues should be for the DOT and rail in Wisconsin,” says Aileen Switzer, DOT’s chief of statewide planning. [Read more…]
Lawmakers say high speed rail riders could be students and seniors
It’s being pitched as a boon to business, with riders tapping away on laptops as they multi-task their way between Milwaukee and Madison. But state Senator Judy Robson says a couple other demographics will welcome the option to hop on high speed rails: seniors and the disabled.
“This is just a very sensible and very convenient way to provide for transit options,” the Beloit Democrat said this week, as she and Democratic colleagues on a legislative committee voted to accept federal funding for high speed rail between the state’s two largest cities. “There’s some elderly people and disabled people who cannot move between one city and another.” [Read more…]
Mayors express support for high speed rail
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. [Read more…]
Lawmakers sign off on high speed rail money
State lawmakers have approved spending $810 million dollars in federal stimulus funding on Madison to Milwaukee high speed rail. Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison) is a co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee. “I think it’s going to positive for not only this region, but for the entire state,” said Pocan. “It’s positive for our economy. And like the other $3.8 billion that we put to good use, that’s come from the federal government to help Wisconsin, this will do even more.” [Read more…]
Tax donor state now on the receiving end
The high speed rail project continues to cause a lot of controversy.
It was announced last week that Wisconsin will get $810 million from the federal government to build high-speed passenger rail service from Milwaukee to Madison. Critics point to the longterm costs, including government subsidies and lack of ridership.
“I think we have to ask ‘what are the costs of bypassing this opportunity?'”
Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, says highways and airlines are subsidized, too. [Read more…]
High speed rail on the fast track to Wisconsin
Fast trains will soon connect Wisconsin’s capital city with Wisconsin’s largest city … and eventually the Twin Cities.
Wisconsin gets $823-million dollars from the federal government to build high-speed passenger rail service from Milwaukee to Madison, and to speed up the current trains from Milwaukee to Chicago.
Governor Jim Doyle stresses, Wisconsin is the biggest beneficiary of this stimulus disbursement. [Read more…]
Wisconsin to get $882 million for high speed rail
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. [Read more…]
Midwest states show unity in DC for high speed rail
Representatives from Midwestern states meet Wednesday in Washington to push for a high-speed rail network.
Wisconsin is one of eight states joining forces to get federal funding to develop the Midwest corridor. Several officials met with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to make their case.
Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi says the intention of the meeting is to show unity among the states.
“You know we have a coordinated approach. Unlike probably the rest of the country, I believe the Midwest has got its act together.” And he says, “I think it’s important that the people in Washington see that.”
A representative of Busalacchi’s office made the trip to D.C. Busalacchi participated in the conference call.
So, when will the feds decide who gets the stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act?
Busalacchi says, “I do not know when they’re talking about making the announcements on the grants. I really don’t.”
Kristi Lafleur with the Illinois governor’s office adds that there is nothing more than speculation right now about who will benefit from federal stimulus money, and there’s no way to know when the decision will be made. She says the main reason for the meetings was to show unity and to make Secretary LaHood aware that the Midwest states have responded to his advice by creating a steering committee, and have meetings and communicating regularly.
NOTE: The Midwest High Speed Rail Steering Group met with the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Federal Rail Administrator, Amtrak leadership, staff from the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, and members of the Midwest Congressional High Speed Rail Caucus.
Jackie Johnson report (1:41 mp3)
On the web:
Governor’s announcement to buy Talgo trains
Midwest High Speed Rail Association