Wednesday, November 17, 2010From an article by James Briggs in The Daily Reporter:
A University of Wisconsin official warns that an initiative of Gov.-elect Scott Walker could prevent rail upgrades and cost jobs.
If that sounds familiar, there‘s good reason. High-speed rail advocates have said Walker’s plan to stop efforts toward a Madison-to-Milwaukee line would kill as many as 9,570 jobs (a Sierra Club estimate).
Walker has said only 55 permanent jobs would be eliminated.
In this case, though, Alan Fish, UW-Madison’s associate vice chancellor for facilities, isn’t talking about high-speed rail. Fish on Monday said if Walker removes a biomass boiler from plans for the Charter Street Heating Plant conversion on the UW-Madison campus, it would mean fewer jobs.
Walker hinted at the move last week in a letter to Department of Administration Secretary Daniel Schooff, but has neither clarified nor confirmed his intentions. A Walker spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
“In order to have a biomass boiler constructed on the site, we’re going to have to have both a fuel storage capacity and some increases in the rail lines, so we can park rail cars right next to the plant,” Fish said. “That would mean building another rail bridge over Park Street and the East Campus Mall so we can make sure freight traffic can still go through while we’re parking cars and unloading.”
The rail work is included in the $251 million conversion project that is under way and set to be completed in 2013. Because the project is phased, though, Fish said it would not be difficult to leave out the biomass boiler. Such a decision would downsize the project, he said.
“If we go to (only) natural gas, we’re going to concentrate all the capital investment in the plant and expansion of the plant,” Fish said. “Fuel handling would come out, the rail work would come out and the biomass boiler and air pollution control is going to come out.”