Panel OKs federal funding of Milwaukee-Madison rail link

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From an article by Jason Stein in the Wisconsin State Journal:

An up to $810 million project to establish high-speed passenger rail service between Madison and Milwaukee cleared its final obstacle Tuesday as the Legislature's budget committee signed off on the project.

The 12-4 party-line vote means the state can use federal stimulus money to begin construction work by the end of this year and to start passenger service as early as 2013 -- the first such service in Madison in four decades.

Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee pointed to support from business groups that say the line will create thousands of construction jobs in the early years as well as increasing commerce and investment.

"It's going to be very positive for the region and for the entire economy," committee chairman Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, said.

Republicans criticized it as a "train to nowhere" that would be a waste of federal money and require ongoing state subsidies once it begins.