Wisconsin official pegs cost of expanded 'Hiawatha' service at $195 million

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Amtrak Hiawathas meet at Rondout, Ill., on Jan. 19, 2018. An estimated $195 million in route upgrades will be required before three additional Hiawatha round trips can be added.
TRAINS: David Lassen

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — A plan to expand Chicago to Milwaukee Amtrak service by three round trips daily would require $195 million in line upgrades, a Wisconsin Department of Transportation official said.

According to a Milwaukee Business News report, Arun Rao, state transportation department passenger rail manager, told a recent meeting of Milwaukee’s Public Transportation Review board that three of those projects, costing $59 million, are within Wisconsin: $10 million for a second platform at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport station and $49 million for two projects at or near downtown’s Milwaukee Intermodal Station.

Amtrak currently serves the Chicago to Milwaukee route with seven Hiawatha round trips that carried more than 829,000 passengers in fiscal 2017. With the additional round trips, ridership is projected to exceed 1 million. Those figures do not include a potential ridership boost for Foxconn Technology Group’s planned Mount Pleasant, Wis., factory, which could employ up to 13,000 people and is near the Hiawatha’s Sturtevant stop.

In Illinois, efforts to add sidings to accommodate additional Hiawatha service has met with significant opposition in the communities of Lake Forest, Deerfield, Northbrook, and Glenview. Residents are concerned what the additional capacity would mean for Canadian Pacific freight operations, and fear increased freight traffic could hurt property values.

This story was edited Feb. 14 to correct the spelling of Sturtevant.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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