"This is a major job creation project that will provide a long-term boost to our economy," Gov. Jim Doyle said. "Through high-speed rail we will connect the major centers of commerce in Wisconsin and in the region. This was a national competition and the results clearly demonstrate that Wisconsin had a very strong application."
Rep. Robin Vos, D-Caledonia, is quoted by the Wisconsin State Journal today saying, ""If we have to invest money in rail, high-speed rail is much more likely to have a positive economic impact than commuter rail."
Although work on the project could start soon, since much of the preliminary planning is done, the first 110mph train to Madison isn't expected to leave before 2016, according to the state's application for the funds.
Here's Kohl and Feingold's statement:
U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold today announced that Wisconsin’s high-speed rail projects will receive $822 million in federal stimulus funds. Of that total, $810 million will be directed to the Madison-Milwaukee corridor and $12 million to the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) included $8 billion for high-speed rail projects. This $8 billion was designated for capital projects, and included three types of competitive discretionary rail grant programs – one of which was for high-speed rail corridor development grants.
“It’s great to see Wisconsin getting its fair share of these federal funds. The Secretary’s decision speaks to the quality of our state’s high-speed rail corridor project. I’m especially pleased by the promise it holds to create jobs and provide transportation choices for travelers across our state,” Kohl said.
“This funding is good news for Wisconsin workers. Not only will this funding help create jobs improving our state’s infrastructure, it will open up more job opportunities for workers in southern Wisconsin. This is an important investment in Wisconsin’s economy and workforce,” Feingold said.
According to the Department of Transportation, the $810 million in funds allocated to the Madison-Milwaukee project will be used for construction of track, passenger stations, signaling and other infrastructure improvements to extend the existing Amtrak Hiawatha service between Chicago and Milwaukee to Madison. The project will result in increased ridership and improved on-time performance. The $12 million in funds directed to the Milwaukee-Chicago project will be used for the installation of crossovers between Chicago and Milwaukee to improve on-time performance for the Amtrak Hiawatha and Empire Builder services, and for construction to extend the platform at the Milwaukee Airport Station, which will reduce travel times on the Amtrak Hiawatha and Empire Builder services by allowing trains longer than the current platform to board and deboard faster.
Wisconsin applied for funding under the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program. According to the State’s application, this would create thousands of jobs in the state, along with clearing congestion on highways and airports and providing an environmentally friendly transportation alternative.
Last November, Feingold and Kohl sent a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in support of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s application to the Federal Railroad Administration for funding under the ARRA rail program. In April, 2009, Kohl and Feingold and a group of 11 other Midwestern Senators signed a letter to President Obama asking that Midwestern rail corridors be considered for ARRA rail funding.
Kohl called Secretary LaHood on Jan. 21 when officials at the Department of Transportation indicated that decisions were being made about how to allocate the funding, which must be obligated by Feb. 17. Feingold spoke with Secretary LaHood in December 2009 to highlight how Wisconsin has been a leader on passenger rail issues under Governor Doyle and WisDOT Secretary Busalacchi and voice support for funding for Wisconsin’s proposal.