New report drives home the benefits of high-speed rail

Monday, May 02, 2011

From a column by Dave Zweifel in The Capital Times:

With a guy like Scott Walker as governor, it’s probably tilting at windmills, but once again a comprehensive report has called attention to the importance of modernizing the Midwest’s rail system.

Late last week a group of transportation advocates and legislators released a report titled “The Economic Impacts of High-Speed Rail: Transforming the Midwest,” which showed that expanding passenger rail service in Wisconsin and the Midwest could create more than 100,000 jobs and $13.8 billion of economic activity.

During a press conference in the Capitol, the group noted that after the governor turned down $810 million in federal stimulus funds to improve passenger rail between Chicago and Milwaukee and extend it to Madison, he now is seeking federal help to upgrade the rail beds and add a train set on the Chicago-Milwaukee route. . . .

Despite the size of the Midwest’s economy, the report noted, it doesn’t have the transportation infrastructure to compete in today’s global marketplace.

Walker could have made sure Wisconsin was part of a new network that one day will transform the nation’s reliance on automobiles and the uncertainty of air travel.

His shortsightedness will cost us dearly for a long time to come.