Trains - for the future

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Scott Walker and Mark Neumann shouldn't stand in the way of a future that includes a balanced transportation network and a fast rail line connecting key cities.

Gov. Jim Doyle and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last week that a fast rail project linking Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and eventually Minneapolis can't be stopped. GOP gubernatorial candidates Scott Walker and Mark Neumann say that if elected they will stop it.

We're not sure that they can stop it; what we do know is that they shouldn't. And not just because the state would have to repay the money already spent on the line before the change of administration next year.

Rail can serve as a valuable economic development tool. We're not talking about old choo-choos here any more than expanded freeway advocates talk about the Model A; we're talking about modern rail that would provide convenient and fast service between major cities in the Midwest; service that would provide wireless Internet for busy business travelers who don't like to be tied up in traffic on highways that represent an older technology.

We have some questions about placement of the stops on the route and some about finances, especially on whether there would be federal money for operating costs, as LaHood suggested last week, and just how operating costs will be met. But in general, we believe that if it's done right, fast rail could provide a vital link for businesses and families in the Midwest and should be a strong transportation option.