Opinion

High-speed Rail: Going, Going, Gone?

IMAGE BY CHRIS BREMNER

By Beth Hanson
STAFF WRITER

The Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker is woefully against a high-speed rail project that would create jobs, is already funded and would contribute to a greater Midwest rail network.

The rail project would be part of a larger Midwest rail network.  It has received $810 million to be carried out in Wisconsin.  The rail project would primarily connect Milwaukee to Madison.  It could also expand to other cities, such as Green Bay, Wis. and Wausau, Wis.

The need for the rail project is clearly stated on the Wisconsin State Web site.  A rail service between Milwaukee and Madison would decongest the highways, provide a faster alternative to driving and create a cleaner environment by taking more cars off the road.

The Wisconsin rail project would aid the economy by creating jobs.  These jobs would be for both long-term rail employees and temporary jobs for construction workers.  The Grassroots Northshore Web site cites that the project would create 4,732 construction jobs and 9,570 permanent jobs.  Yet, Walker is willing to give up this wealth of jobs.

Additionally, the project has already been funded.  Yet, Walker would have Wisconsin pull out of the arrangement on an argument that the money should be applied toward road and/or highway projects.

However, U. S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood remarked in a recent Wisconsin State Journal article that Walker is mistaken.  The money allocated toward the high-speed rail can only be used for the rail and not dispersed to other forms of transportation.  It appears that Walker would rather lose $810 million of funding that would benefit Wisconsin than see a high-speed rail project link the Midwest.

According to the same Wisconsin State Journal article, Wisconsin has already received more than $700 million in funding for its roads and highways.  That area of state transportation is already covered.  Walker is clearly deluded in thinking that more funding to roads and highways is more necessary than building a rail that would be a part of a larger project.

As a part of the larger Midwest project, Wisconsin rails would eventually connect to Minneapolis; Chicago; Des Moines, Iowa; Indianapolis; Cleveland and St. Louis, among other cities.  If Walker is able to withdraw Wisconsin from the rail project, it will not only lead to a loss for Wisconsin, but a loss for the country.

At the beginning of the year, President Obama allocated $8 billion toward 13 high-speed rails, says the Wisconsin State Web site.  If Wisconsin pulls out, it will put the connection between Minneapolis, Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago in peril.

The train was scheduled to begin running in 2013.  Wisconsinites can only hope Walker’s halt is stopped before the schedule falls behind or the state loses the project.

 

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