Wisconsin Rail Upgrade Still Possible

While Gov. Walker's rejection of $810 million of federal stimulus funds for the Milwaukee-Madison rail upgrade has received much publicity, he has not ruled out using funds to upgrade the existing Milwaukee-Chicago Hiawatha Line pushed by businesses.

"Ridership on Amtrak's Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line has doubled in the past eight years. Gov. Scott Walker has said little about his plans for the Hiawatha. But the Milwaukee-area business community strongly supports the route.

Just days before the federal government yanked nearly all of the $810 million allocated for a Milwaukee-to-Madison line, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce offered Walker a plan to shift most of the cash to the Hiawatha and other existing rail service."

From JS Online: Walker open to redirecting high-speed train money to other rail projects (11/15/10): "For the first time, Governor-elect Scott Walker is raising the possibility he could support spending $810 million in federal funds on train service - just not the train service for which it was allocated".

Walker instead chose to push to transfer the funds to state highway projects - flatly rejected by DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. The business community has made pitches to Walker to support rail in the past repeatedly. This article is enlightening in that it shows how disinterested Walker was in investing in any rail project - providing a new twist on "my way or the highway".

Thanks to John Hartz

Full Story: Hiawatha seen as prime candidate for high-speed upgrade

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