Posts Tagged ‘Scott Walker’

Plain Talk: Wisconsin’s loss is Illinois’ gain as trains roll

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City council resolution asks Wisconsin DOT to participate in high-speed rail study

The Eau Claire City Council hopes to get the governor on board with a rail study.

City council member Dana Wachs has requested a resolution asking Governor Scott Walker to order the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to participate in a rail study.


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Wisconsin shut out of federal train money

Wisconsin was shut out Monday in its bid for $150 million in federal money to upgrade the Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that 22 projects in 15 states would share $2 billion in federal high-speed rail money that had been rejected by Florida.


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Amtrak, 15 states get $2 billion that Florida lost

Amtrak and rail projects in 15 states are being awarded the $2 billion that Florida lost after the governor canceled plans for high-speed train service, the Department of Transportation said Monday.

The largest share of the money — nearly $800 million — will be used to upgrade train speeds from 135 mph to 160 mph on critical segments of the heavily traveled Northeast corridor, the department said in a statement..

Another $404 million will go to expand high-speed rail service in the Midwest, including newly constructed segments of 110-mph track between Detroit and Chicago that are expected to save passengers 30 minutes in travel time.


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Midwest states seek high-speed rail funding

Chicago Tribune

Hoping Florida’s loss is their gain, Illinois and neighboring states have applied for high-speed rail federal funding that became available after the Sunshine State’s governor scuttled plans for fast trains, officials said today.

If the Midwest states are successful in obtaining some of the $2.4 billion that Florida relinquished, the money would be used to buy new trains, accelerate plans to build track and signals for 110 mph passenger service and install railroad crossing upgrades on the Amtrak route between Chicago and St. Louis on the Union Pacific Railroad line, officials said.


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Gov applying for $150M for Wis. train upgrades

Bloomberg Businessweek

Several months after rejecting federal funds to build high-speed rail across Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker is now asking for at least $150 million to add trains for an existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago line.

Walker said Tuesday the federal funds would be used to buy two train sets and eight locomotives as well as build a maintenance facility in Milwaukee.


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Scott Walker Now WANTS The High-Speed Rail Funds He Rejected In The First Place

Less than half a year after rejecting federal funds to build a high-speed rail connecting Milwaukee to Madison, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is now asking for at least $150 million from the feds to upgrade an existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago passenger line.

Wait, what?

Ironic, considering Walker had staked his political career on opposition to the Midwest High Speed Rail Initiative, even launching a campaign website towards his high-minded goal. In spite the $810 million that the federal government had offered the state, Walker had originally refused the project because he said it was a “a waste of taxpayer money.”

Now, Walker wants federal funds to buy two train sets and eight locomotives, build a maintenance facility in Milwaukee as well as renovate the train shed at the downtown Milwaukee Amtrak-Greyhound station for Amtrak’s Hiawatha line connecting Milwaukee-to-Chicago. Walker claims that the new upgrades will lower operating costs, reduce trip times from 90 minutes to one hour and increase ticket revenue. In a further twist, the money for the grant will actually come from the $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funds that Florida just rejected.

The shed that Walker plans to upgrade to make it comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act will account for about $30 million of the $150 million grant money, but it’s a project that would have actually been paid for had Walker just kept the $800 million the feds had originally given him.


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State seeks money for Hiawatha upgrade

$150 million is sought for Milwaukee-Chicago route


Less than four months after losing nearly all of an $810 million grant, Wisconsin is again seeking federal high-speed rail money – this time to upgrade the existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago passenger line.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration announced Tuesday that the state will seek at least $150 million to add equipment and facilities for Amtrak’s Hiawatha line.

Walker said the money would be used to upgrade service on the Hiawatha line, as a step toward increasing the speed of the trains to nearly 110 mph and reducing the trip time from 90 minutes to one hour. If the improved service draws more riders, the number of round trips could be increased, he said during a news conference in the Milwaukee Intermodal Station.

The governor said he expected Illinois, Michigan and Missouri would join in the application for the federal dollars, part of the $8 billion rail element of President Barack Obama’s administration’s stimulus package.

In a bizarre twist, some of the money that Walker now seeks originally was allocated for the Milwaukee-to-Madison route he previously turned down. That money is available because a fellow Republican governor rejected it as well.

Walker said the money would allow Wisconsin to buy two more train sets and eight locomotives and to build a maintenance facility for that equipment and two train sets now under construction.

But speeding up the trains would require additional track improvements in future years, said Reggie Newson, executive assistant to state Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb.

The locomotives, train sets and maintenance base would have been covered by the earlier $810 million grant. But the maintenance base, originally envisioned as a $52 million facility in Madison, now would be a $60 million facility at the Talgo Inc. train plant in the Century City complex on Milwaukee’s north side.


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Get on board, governor

The Walker administration should not miss an April 4 deadline on an application for federal funds to upgrade Amtrak's Hiawatha line.


A deadline is fast approaching on an opportunity to improve rail transportation between Milwaukee and Chicago. It’s a deadline that Gov. Scott Walker’s administration should not miss.

At stake are $2.4 billion that became available when Florida rejected a high-speed rail grant. The deadline for applications for grants from that funding is a little over a week away: April 4.

Other states are applying; Wisconsin should be right in there with them. The money could be used to add trains, upgrade rail lines to accommodate higher speeds and improve stations.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has been making a hard push for the funding. As he told us this week, it would be a “huge missed opportunity” if Wisconsin did not apply. Especially as gasoline prices continue to climb toward $4 a gallon, the mayor added, it just makes sense to improve a major service for commuters and business. He’s right.


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Elbert: Wisconsin rail money rejection may help Iowa’s plan

Des Moines Register

Iowa passenger rail fans have received an unexpected boost from Minnesota, and the timing couldn’t be better.

Minnesota had been planning a high-speed rail link between the Twin Cities and Chicago that would pass through Madison and Milwaukee, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s refusal to accept federal money has, for the time being, taken that option off the table.

Dan Krom, director of Minnesota’s passenger rail program, was quoted by the St. Paul Pioneer Press recently as suggesting an alternative.

Instead of a more direct route through Wisconsin, a train could head south from the Twin Cities to Des Moines and then east to Chicago, Krom said.


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