Wisconsin high-speed rail project “locked in”

RELATED TOPICS: HIGH SPEED RAIL
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MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin’s outgoing Gov. Jim Doyle has signed an agreement with the federal government to ensure the state’s Madison to Milwaukee passenger line will be built even if the winning candidate in today’s election opposes it. Last weekend state and federal administrators signed a deal to commit Wisconsin to spending all $810 million of the federal stimulus money allocated to build a high speed Milwaukee-to-Madison passenger train route, officials told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The line has become a partisan political issue in the Wisconsin governor’s race, with Republican candidate Scott Walker vowing to kill the line if elected. Even with the federal government picking up construction costs, Walker has stated he doesn’t want the state to spend money on operating the line and would rather see the money spent on roads. His Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, backs the route.

Cari Anne Renlund, executive assistant to Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi, insisted the timing wasn’t driven by today’s election. She said the Doyle administration was following its original plan for the project to create construction jobs as soon as possible. “We are merely trying to get the money obligated so the work can begin,” Renlund told the newspaper. “These are stimulus dollars. The goal of it was to get people working.”

The Milwaukee-Madison route would operate as an extension of Amtrak’s existing Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha service. Canadian Pacific owns the portion of the route from Milwaukee to Watertown, Wis., where trains would enter state-owned trackage to Madison, presently operated by Wisconsin & Southern. Service is to start in 2013, with six round trips daily at 79 mph, rising to a top speed of 110 mph by 2015. Operating costs are projected at $7.5 million a year, not counting the portion covered by fares.
MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin’s outgoing Gov. Jim Doyle has signed an agreement with the federal government to ensure the state’s Madison to Milwaukee passenger line will be built even if the winning candidate in today’s election opposes it. Last weekend state and federal administrators signed a deal to commit Wisconsin to spending all $810 million of the federal stimulus money allocated to build a high speed Milwaukee-to-Madison passenger train route, officials told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The line has become a partisan political issue in the Wisconsin governor’s race, with Republican candidate Scott Walker vowing to kill the line if elected. Even with the federal government picking up construction costs, Walker has stated he doesn’t want the state to spend money on operating the line and would rather see the money spent on roads. His Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, backs the route.

Cari Anne Renlund, executive assistant to Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi, insisted the timing wasn’t driven by today’s election. She said the Doyle administration was following its original plan for the project to create construction jobs as soon as possible. “We are merely trying to get the money obligated so the work can begin,” Renlund told the newspaper. “These are stimulus dollars. The goal of it was to get people working.”

The Milwaukee-Madison route would operate as an extension of Amtrak’s existing Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha service. Canadian Pacific owns the portion of the route from Milwaukee to Watertown, Wis., where trains would enter state-owned trackage to Madison, presently operated by Wisconsin & Southern. Service is to start in 2013, with six round trips daily at 79 mph, rising to a top speed of 110 mph by 2015. Operating costs are projected at $7.5 million a year, not counting the portion covered by fares.
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