Wisconsin is getting over $800 million for high speed rail linking Milwaukee to Madison and improving the existing Milwaukee/Chicago Amtrak line.
Wisconsin getting ANYTHING in the way of federal money is news, and I like the idea of transportation alternatives. We piddle and moan about road construction, the cost of maintaining highways, congestion and of course, that perennial favorite: the high cost of gas,. Yet we don't do anything about it.
Unless, of course, Uncle Sam is willing to pick up the tab.
I'd love to see high-speed rail to Madison--I can think of a few Badger football Saturdays when it would come in big handy. That is, until one reads the fine print and finds that the new line will drop you off not on the UW campus, State Street, Camp Randall, or the State Capitol.
The train stops instead at Dane County Regional Airport, miles from anywhere you want to be.
WTF? Read along from Friday's Journal/Sentinel:
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said the rail station at the airport on the fringe of the city could be served by a $225 million commuter rail line proposed to run from Middleton to the airport and eventually Sun Prairie. A recently approved Regional Transportation Authority is expected to pursue that commuter line, which would be funded through a 0.5% sales tax. "One of our hopes has been that high-speed rail will happen here," Falk said. "This enhances our goal of getting commuter rail in place."
In the meantime, I guess I'll have to fly to the game. Do they rent choppers at Dane County Regional Airport?
High speed rail already has plenty of critics. Did it's backers really have to hand them a bat with which it is so easy to bash this concept to pieces?
It's one thing to have a train that gets you somewhere fast, but the question always remains: how do people get to their actual destinations once they leave the train station? The Chicago/Milwaukee link works because Milwaukeeans commute to one of two train stations here before hitching a ride south--when they get to Chicago, you have cabs and L-stations to finish the job. Someone heading via high-speed rail to Madison is either going to have to have a friend to give them a lift from the airport, or a really spiffy set of walking shoes until the commuter link is in place. IF, it's ever in place.
Don't make this easy for rail critics, people. It's already hard enough to get folks to wrap their arms around transportation alternatives. It's one thing to drop nearly a billion dollars on high speed rail. It costs virtually nothing to expel the common sense it takes to come up with a useful place for it to drop you off.