UPDATE: High Speed Rail Dead In Wisconsin

By: Zac Schultz Email
By: Zac Schultz Email

UPDATED Wednesday, December 15, 2010 --- 11:03 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Two Democratic state lawmakers are asking Gov.-elect Scott Walker to explain how he'll pay for certain train-related expenses after the Republican refused federal funds that would have covered them.

Walker turned down $810 million to build high-speed rail between Madison and Milwaukee. He said the state could get stuck paying for upkeep.

Mark Pocan in the Assembly and Mark Miller of the Senate told Walker on Wednesday his refusal means Wisconsin taxpayers could now be liable for related projects worth $101 million.

Those include $52 million for a train-maintenance facility and $30 million for freight-rail upgrades.

However, fiscal analyst Jon Dyck of the state Legislative Fiscal Bureau says lawmakers have the option of scaling back the projects to save money.

Walker's office didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, December 9, 2010 -- 4:48pm
By Zac Schultz

Pewaukee - Count this as Scott Walker's first campaign promise fulfilled. For months on the campaign trail he said he would stop the high speed rail project from Milwaukee to Madison. Thursday, President Obama officially withdrew $810 million from Wisconsin and announced he will re-allocate it to other states.

"I mentioned this repeatedly during the campaign," says Walker. "That if push came to shove, even if it went to another state it was preferable to the taxpayers of this state being fixed with a bill that far exceeded our ability to pay and would take money away from other projects in this state."

Supporters said the project would create thousands of construction jobs and create an economic boom along the rail line. Governor Doyle released a statement calling this a "tragic moment" for Wisconsin.

Madison was already planning a major transformation to the downtown to accommodate the rail station. Mayor Dave Cieslewicz released a statement saying, "This is a black day for Wisconsin's economy."

But Walker and other opponents said the state could not afford the expected $7.5 million annual subsidy. Walker originally wanted the money to remain in Wisconsin and go towards road improvements, but says he is pleased to hear the state will not have to repay the $14 million already spent. "They're going to take the remaining funds and redistribute them to a dozen or 15 other states, but the bottom line is we're not going to have to repay it."

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UPDATED Thursday, December 9, 2010 --- 3:22 p.m.

Governor-elect Walker Statement on Madison-Milwaukee train line:

Madison—Today Governor-elect Walker released the following statement:

As I said along the campaign trail, we didn’t need and couldn’t afford the Madison to Milwaukee rail line. While I would have preferred to have the $810 million reallocated to repair our crumbling roads and bridges, I am glad that the transportation fund will not be on the hook for a minimum of $7.5 million of operating subsidies every year.

Wisconsin taxpayers were victorious today in defeating this project. The last election showed that Wisconsinites oppose runaway government spending.

The Madison to Milwaukee train line is dead.

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UPDATED Thursday, December 9, 2010 --- 2:36 p.m.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz released the following statement today regarding high speed rail:

“This is a black day for Wisconsin’s economy.

“The 5,000 or so construction workers who could have been employed over the course of the next few months building high speed rail have Scott Walker to thank for their continued unemployment.

“A governor-elect who claims to be making jobs his top priority has killed thousands of good-paying jobs before even taking office. And it won’t stop here. Walker has laid out nothing less than an all out attack on the modern economy.

“With his high speed rail decision, Walker has sent a national and even international message that Wisconsin is closed to new ideas and not nearly open to business. Next he’ll go after stem cell research, possibly chasing those jobs to California. And we can only imagine what else he’ll do to turn back the clock on progress.

“Scott Walker, even before taking office, has done irreparable damage to Wisconsin’s economy.”

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UPDATED Thursday, December 9, 2010 --- 12:42 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Madison development promoter says she's sorry to see President Barack Obama's administration strip the state of $810 million for a high-speed train between the state's capital and Milwaukee.

Susan Schmitz is the president of Downtown Madison, Inc. She says the administration's move is extremely disappointing and accomplishes nothing.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday that it would move $1.2 billion for high-speed rail in Ohio and Wisconsin to other states.

Ohio and Wisconsin both have incoming Republican governors who oppose high-speed rail. Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker promised to kill the Madison-Milwaukee line during his campaign.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Statement from Senator Jon Erpenbach on high speed rail Federal fund loss.

“Before even being sworn in office Governor-Elect Walker has given away over 4,000 Wisconsin jobs. Those jobs are gone. $810 million dollars in Wisconsin taxpayer’s money is also gone. A Governor’s job is to pay attention to the details and keep an eye on the big picture; history will not look kindly on Governor-Elect Walker’s decision.”

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Statement of U.S. Senator Herb Kohl on the Loss of High-Speed Rail Funds, December 9, 2010:

“I’m disappointed to see this project leave Wisconsin. High-speed rail held a lot of promise to create thousands of jobs and spur economic growth.”

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Statement of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin On the Announcement that Wisconsin’s High Speed Rail Money Will Go, Instead, to Other States:

“This is a terribly sad day for Wisconsin. By pledging to stop the high speed rail project in our state, Governor-elect Walker is denying jobs to Wisconsinites when they are desperately needed and sending the message that Wisconsin is not open to innovation, new business, and the economic development we need to grow and thrive in the 21st Century. We are witnessing the ugly triumph of politics over progress and the people of Wisconsin will suffer the consequences for decades to come.”

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Governor Doyle Statement on High Speed Rail

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today issued the following statement:

“Secretary LaHood today advised me that because of Governor-elect Walker’s adamant opposition to the rail project, the $810 million awarded to Wisconsin will now be allocated to other states.

“This is a tragic moment for the State of Wisconsin. Our team worked hard to win a national competition to make us a leader in high speed passenger rail. We were positioned to be not only a center of the line, but to be a manufacturing center as well. Now we are moving from being the leader, to the back of the line.

“Eight hundred and ten million dollars that would have gone to create thousands of jobs in Wisconsin will now create jobs in other states. Bogus arguments that this money can be used for roads have been proven false. As Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota continue to work on the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, the connection of Chicago to Minneapolis will avoid Wisconsin. Milwaukee, Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire and other Wisconsin communities will lose the benefit of those connections. Together with many others I have worked hard to move Wisconsin into the future. I obviously am deeply saddened to see us take a major step backward.”

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UPDATED Thursday, December 9, 2010 --- 10:58 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congressional sources say the Obama administration is taking $1.2 billion in high-speed rail money away from Ohio and Wisconsin and awarding it to projects in other states.

People familiar with the grants say the Department of Transportation will announce Thursday that California, Illinois and New York, among other states, will get a share of the funds.

Republican governors opposed to high-speed rail were elected in Ohio and Wisconsin in November. They have promised to kill projects in their states.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Friday, November 26, 2010 --- 8:40 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Train supporters in Wisconsin aren't the only ones hoping Gov.-elect Scott Walker changes his mind to kill the proposed rail link between Madison and Milwaukee.

If Walker turns away $810 million in federal stimulus money to pay for rail service, it is unlikely Minnesota would see its largest metropolitan area connected to the proposed nine-state Midwest rail line anytime soon.

But The Capital Times reports that Minnesota is still planning a series of meetings in Wisconsin and Minnesota. State officials want to obtain information for an environmental impact study on the roughly a dozen proposed rail routes between the Twin Cities and Chicago via Milwaukee.

Information from:
The Capital Times
http://www.madison.com/tct

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Saturday, November 20, 2010 --- 6:25 p.m.
Posted by Tim Elliott

Demonstrators rally in downtown Madison Saturday to voice their support for Wisconsin's high-speed rail project. Although the project appears dead, that's not stopping some from trying to get it back on track.

“Save the train, save the train!” the crowd chanted.

Supporters of the statewide, high-speed rail project are making sure their message is heard loud and clear

“We need to stop the rhetoric, not the train!” said state representative Mark Pocan.

The large crowd gathered in downtown Madison, hoping to change governor-elect Scott Walker's mind.

“People want the train!” said event organizer Elizabeth Ward.

“Governor-elect Walker needs to apologize because he wants to send 13,000 thousand jobs and $810 million to places like North Carolina, or New York, or California, or even Illinois!” said Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now.

It's been in the works for years, but Walker has vowed to kill the project when he takes office in January, calling it a waste of taxpayer's money.

Saturday's rally in downtown Madison was one of seven across the entire state of Wisconsin. Organizers of the rally say supporters of the project need to speak out in order to have their voices heard.

“It's really important for the whole state, it's not a partisan issue, it's about Wisconsin's future,” said Andy Olsen with the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

The project would create a network or high speed trains, connecting Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago.

“Wisconsin needs jobs and we also need to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and high speed rail does both of those things and it would be a crime to reject these funds,” added Ross.

“I personally think this train is important because we need to have transportation options, we can't rely on oil being cheap forever,” commented Olsen.

These demonstrators say their fight is far from over.

“Nobody is going to stop fighting, nobody's going to stop pushing this issue, and what are we going to do here together here in the state of Wisconsin?” Ross asked.

The crowd responded emphatically: “Save the train!”

Wisconsin received $823 million in stimulus money to pay for the project. The State Department of Transportation estimates Wisconsin will lose nearly $100 million if the project is canceled.

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UPDATED Saturday, November 20, 2010 --- 6:00 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — High speed rail advocates held rallies in Wisconsin to show their support even though the project appears dead.

About 200 people attended a rally Saturday at Milwaukee's Amtrak-Greyhound station and more than 50 people gathered at Rainbow Park in Oshkosh.

Gov.-elect Scott Walker has said he won't allow the project paid for with federal stimulus money to move forward. But backers who say the train will bring jobs and economic development to the state aren't backing down.

They've already collected 7,000 signatures in support of the train and enlisted business and community leaders to speak up.

Rallies were also planned in Madison, La Crosse and Eau Claire on Saturday. Another event is also planned for Tuesday at the Talgo train-making facility in Milwaukee.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, November 18, 2010 --- 11:31 a.m.

Press Release from the Sierra Club:

November 20 Statewide Day of Action to Save the Train – Madison

Who:
Bob Lien, Owner, Lien Tech Inc, Steel Fabricator, Stoughton
Rep. Mark Pocan, AD 78
Scot Ross, Director, One Wisconsin Now
Steve Hiniker, Director, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin
Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate, Environmental Law & Policy Center
Scott McDonell, Dane County Board of Supervisors
Mark Clear, Madison City Council President (invited)

When: 12:00 PM (NOON) – 12:45 PM

Where: 400 S. Hancock St (Intersection of S. Hancock and E. Wilson)

Details: Madison area business owners, elected officials, and activists will speak out to highlight the economic benefits of restoring intercity passenger train service to our capital city. Other similar events will take place in Milwaukee, Oshkosh, La Crosse, and Eau Claire. The purpose of this statewide day of action to Save the Train is to urge Governor Elect Walker to reconsider his decision to turn away $822 million dollars in federal grant funds to restore rail service between Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison. Declining this project will kill Wisconsin’s potential to create 9,570 permanent jobs, $173 million in additional household income, and $704 million in increased property values created by fully implementing passenger rail in Wisconsin. In addition to direct construction, rail engineer, maintenance, and operations jobs, this project will also stimulate tourism and business development in Wisconsin. (See http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/state/docs/mwrri-economic.pdf).

Extending the popular Hiawatha passenger train to Madison is the first step on a long journey toward economic prosperity. This project is part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, a plan that calls for a 3,000-mile passenger rail network serving nine states with frequent service and top speeds of 110 MPH. A modern, efficient rail network will create thousands of jobs, increase property values and reduce traffic jams. It will also reduce our dependence on oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take 500,000 cars off the road (see the Global Warming Task Force Report, page 153 http://dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/gtfgw/documents/Final_Report.pdf). Improving transit will also bring seniors and young professionals who don’t want to or can’t drive back to Wisconsin.

The statewide day of action to Save the Train is hosted by the Sierra Club and cosponsored by Civitáe, the Dane Alliance for Rational Transportation, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Pro-Rail, Madison Peak Oil Group, United Transportation Union, Upstream Institute for Ecological Ethics, the Wisconsin Network for Peace & Justice, WISPIRG & Wisconsin Urban & Rural Transit Association.

Founded in 1892 by John Muir, the Sierra Club is America’s oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. The Sierra Club’s mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives.

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UPDATED Thursday, November 18, 2010 --- 12:03 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Minnesota labor union is urging Wisconsin's Republican Gov.-elect Scott Walker to change his mind and allow a high-speed train to be built between Milwaukee and Madison.

The Minnesota AFL-CIO sent Walker a letter on Thursday saying the project will put thousands of people to work in the region and spur economic development.

The Milwaukee to Madison line is envisioned to eventually extend west and north to the Twin Cities. It is to be paid for with federal stimulus money, but Walker has vowed to stop it because he says it's a waste of money that instead should go to repairing roads.

Union groups in Wisconsin, along with the mayors of Madison and Milwaukee, business and community leaders, have all been urging Walker to change his mind to no avail.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, November 16, 2010 --- 1:45 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Three Republican congressmen from Wisconsin have introduced a bill that would give states the option of returning federal funds that are earmarked for high-speed rail projects.

The bill introduced Tuesday would let states redirect the money to the U.S. Treasury toward reducing the national debt.

The legislation was introduced by Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan and Tom Petri. They say it would give states flexibility in prioritizing how tax dollars are spent.

Their bill could be relevant in Wisconsin, where Republican Gov.-elect Scott Walker has said he doesn't want the $810 million that has been allocated for Wisconsin's high-speed rail project.

The government says if the money isn't used for high-speed rail in Wisconsin it'll be used for high-speed rail in another state.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Wednesday, November 10, 2010 --- 3:50 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Several workers at trainmaker Talgo Inc. say their jobs could be in jeopardy if Wisconsin refuses federal funding for a proposed high-speed rail project.

Three employees spoke Wednesday at a Milwaukee news conference. They say the state's wavering has left their futures uncertain.

The federal stimulus bill allocated $810 million for a Madison-to-Milwaukee line. But Republican Gov.-elect Scott Walker wants to use the money for other purposes or give it back.

That could hurt Talgo, which was to build the two train sets. Talgo has said its prospects for creating another 85 jobs are now unclear.

WISPIRG is a nonprofit public-policy organization. It released a report Wednesday saying high-speed rail in Europe and Asia led to economic growth there and could do the same here.

Online:
Talgo: http://www.talgoamerica.com/
WISPIRG: http://www.wispirg.org/
U.S. PIRG: http://www.uspirg.org/

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, November 9, 2010 --- 1:42 p.m.

Click the document link above to read a letter that Governor-Elect Scott Walker sent to U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood.

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UPDATED Monday, November 8, 2010 -- 5:09 pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: "We are right at the point of putting a lot of people out on the job site." If Governor Doyle had his way, the first 412 people would already be working on the high speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison.

Last Wednesday morning the Department of Transportation told contractors to start work, but a few hours later Doyle ordered a temporary pause.

That's because Republican Scott Walker was elected Governor the night before, and has campaigned on shutting down the project.

Doyle says he was tempted to push forward with the $823 million project. "Part of me says just do that. I have to actually really consider what the practical consequences of this are."

Throughout the fall Doyle and U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said the train was unstoppable. The state has already spent $14.25 million and would have spent up to $100 million by the end of the year, and on the hook for $250 million in contracts, all of which would need to be repaid if the project goes elsewhere.

"The decision that I had to make is do I play brinksmanship?" says Doyle. "Do I just push forward full-steam ahead. That we spend and obligate hundreds of millions of dollars on a project that in the end could be the subject of great dispute, disruption, litigation."

In the end, Doyle decided it was better to wait. "I have put it on pause for the opportunity for the U.S. DOT to confer with the Governor-elect."

"My position remains the same." Walker isn't budging. "I don't see anything that would change my mind."

Governor-elect Walker says Gov. Doyle does deserve credit for not throwing more money at a project that's likely to be done after January 3rd. "I appreciate the fact he understands a change will be forthcoming on January 3rd and certainly wants to make sure the state doesn't incur anymore costs if it's not heading that way."

Doyle says there is no deadline for Walker to meet with U.S. DOT officials, but says eventually the federal government will pull the money and give it to the next state in line.

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UPDATED: Monday, November 8, 2010 --- 9:30 p.m.
REPORTER: Chris Woodard

Tonight some downtown Madison business owners are making their position clear and say if Governor-elect Walker stops the high speed rail project it will cost them money.

At this point there is not much they can do. They're caught in limbo and don't really know what to make of where the project sits right now. They're raising their voice and fighting without knowing if it will even make one bit of difference.

Every day the future becomes even foggier, the months and years ahead harder to plan for.

Business owner Kristin Wild is growing increasingly frustrated. She says, "I feel like it's going to be a while until we have any answers."

Wild, owner of the clothing store Atticus on Madison's Capitol Square, is one of 525 members of Downtown Madison Incorporated (DMI).

The group just sent a letter to Governor-elect Scott Walker making it very clear they're not a fan of his plan to kill the high speed rail project.

Wild says, "It was just something we had all been really excited for. We had been talking about it. I had considered growth options in the future and now all of that is kinds of on hold just wondering what's going to happen."

Like some others Wild had been expecting the train to bring more foot traffic to her store.

For a lot of downtown business owners tourism accounts for a big chunk of revenue and they say that's additional money they were already planning on bringing in.

DMI Executive Director Susan Schmitz says, "They're ramping up for this. They're excited about this. They see it as good for their business, good for downtown."

So far Governor-elect Walker hasn't been moved.

He says, "My position remains the same."

On the same day Governor Doyle said the future of the train is now in Walker's hands, Walker said he still thinks stopping the train would save money in the long run.

Walker says, "Part of the reason why, in deference to the new administration, why the current administration wanted to slow things down was to make sure the state wasn't incurring any more bills with that."

Schmitz says she's nervous but still hopeful some kind of resolution can be reached that is a win/win for the businesses that want to see high speed rail to Madison.

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UPDATED Monday, November 8, 2010 --- 2:40 p.m.

NBC15 was the first TV station to sit down with Governor Doyle after he suspended the high-speed rail project. Click on the VIDEO LINK above to watch his interview.

Governor Doyle Statement on High Speed Rail:
MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today issued the following statement regarding high speed rail in Wisconsin:

“The high speed rail project is one that is very important to this state and one that I have worked on for many years. Over the past several years we have made Wisconsin a regional rail leader. We have spent years working closely with our neighboring states, our federal partners and Amtrak. We collaborated to plan the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, a nine-state intercity passenger rail system with a hub in Chicago, to connect Wisconsin’s centers of commerce and businesses to others in the Midwest.

“When President Obama announced his initial investment in modern high speed rail for this country, Wisconsin was the biggest winner. States across the country, with rail projects totaling $55 billion, were competing for the $8 billion that was available. The $823 million Wisconsin received is more than 10 percent of all the funds awarded nationally for high speed rail projects. And Wisconsin was the only state to receive all of the funds it applied for.

“We have gotten this project to the point where construction work is ready to begin immediately. Right now, people could be at work constructing land bridges and more. I could push forward full steam ahead on this project, play brinksmanship. In fact, we could spend or obligate hundreds of millions of dollars.

“While I could force the issue, I believe that this project will only be successful in the long run if the State of Wisconsin and the U.S. Department of Transportation are strong partners. For that reason, I have put the project on pause, so that the U.S. DOT and the Governor-elect can confer about the future of the high speed rail project. If Governor-elect Walker opposes the project, U.S. DOT has made it clear that the money will go to one of the many other states that intend to move forward with high speed passenger rail.

“To me, it doesn’t make sense to not move ahead, but we have had an election. There has been a lot of politics played with this issue, but I have to deal in the real world and think about how this affects real jobs and the real lives of people in Wisconsin.

“There are real consequences for not going forward. Over 400 Wisconsin workers were scheduled to work on the project over the next several months and now face the real possibility of being laid off. Over $14 million in expenses incurred over the last six months will need to be paid for by Wisconsin taxpayers. Necessary upgrades to the existing Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago totaling $82 million will no longer be eligible for federal assistance, shifting costs from the federal government to the state. These include $18 million in platform renovations at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station necessary to bring the platform into compliance with federal safety regulations; $12 million for platform renovations at the Milwaukee Airport Station and other important improvements to the existing Hiawatha line; and $52 million for a facility to maintain new Hiawatha train sets.

“It is my understanding that in the coming days, the U.S. Department of Transportation will reach out to Governor-elect Walker about the project so that he fully understands these consequences. There has been talk that this money could be used for roads. That is pure fiction. There are already states lined up with rail projects waiting for us to turn back this money. If the Governor-elect decides that Wisconsin should not build new rail infrastructure, the U.S. DOT has made it very clear this money will go to another state.”

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UPDATED Monday, November 8, 2010 --- 2:30 p.m.

From NBC15's Zac Schultz:

Governor Jim Doyle says the high speed rail project cannot go forward without the support of governor-elect Scott Walker. Doyle says he's willing to shut the project down rather than let it begin and have it halted when Walker takes office in January.

"We have gotten this project to the point where construction work is ready to begin immediately. Right now, people could be at work constructing land bridges and more. I could push forward full steam ahead on this project, play brinksmanship.

In fact, we could spend or obligate hundreds of millions of dollars.

While I could force the issue, I believe that this project will only be successful in the long run if the state of Wisconsin and the U.S. Department of Transportation are strong partners. For that reason, I have put the project on pause so that the U.S. D.O.T. and the governor-elect can confer about the future of the high speed rail project."

Governor Doyle says the state has already spent $14.25 million on the high speed rail project, and that if he were to continue with the original plan--which called for work to start last week--the state would have spent another $60 to $100 million by the end of the year, and in total would have been obligated for up $250 million.

Doyle says if the project is shut down, the state will owe back $14.25 million already spent, and there may be other money they have to pay back to contractors who have already bought materials.

He says an additional $83.4 million from this project was planned for upgrades and maintenance for Chicago to Milwaukee existing line. He says if the project is killed, those upgrades will still need to be made, but will have to come out of state money.

Doyle also says there is an immediate job impact. He says 412 people would have been working on the project so far, including consultant staff, state employees, and 300 construction jobs.

Dole and governor-elect Walker do plan to meet today to discuss Walker's transition into office.

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UPDATED Monday, November 8, 2010 --- 2:25 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle says he is leaving the future of Wisconsin's high speed train line to his Republican successor who has vowed to kill the project.

Gov.-elect Scott Walker said Monday he doesn't see anything that would make him change his mind that the project is a boondoggle and a waste of taxpayer money.

Doyle told The Associated Press on Monday that he decided he could play brinksmanship and push the project ahead between now and when he leaves office and see if Walker could stop it.

But Doyle says that could lead to lawsuits, put jobs in jeopardy and cause great unrest to the project.

Wisconsin was awarded $810 million in federal stimulus money to pay for building the line between Madison to Milwaukee.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Monday, November 8, 2010 --- 2:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle says he is leaving the future of Wisconsin's high speed train line to his Republican successor who has vowed to kill the project.

Doyle told The Associated Press on Monday that he decided he could either play brinksmanship and push the project ahead between now and when he leaves office and see if Gov.-elect Scott Walker could stop it.

But Doyle says that could lead to lawsuits, put jobs in jeopardy and cause great unrest to the project.

Instead, Doyle says he is leaving it up to Walker to discuss the project's future with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Doyle says it can't be a success unless both sides work together on it.

Wisconsin was awarded $810 million in federal stimulus money to pay for building the line between Madison to Milwaukee.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Saturday, November 6, 2010 --- 8:55 a.m.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo is asking the federal government to redirect $1.2 billion to New York for high-speed rail projects.

The Democrat is asking Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to redirect the money to New York if the governors-elect in Ohio and Wisconsin continue with their promise to cancel the projects that were to be funded with the money.

Cuomo says high-speed rail could be the 21st century equivalent of the Erie Canal and New York is ready to spend the money now as a boost to the economy.

Cuomo says thousands of jobs would be created as well as a faster route across the state.

There was no immediate comment from federal government.

Ohio's incoming governor Republican John Kasich wants to scrap a high-speed rail project in the face of growing deficits.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, November 5, 2010 --- 12:20 p.m.

By DINESH RAMDE
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Trainmaker Talgo Inc. says it can't promise it will stay in Milwaukee if Wisconsin scuttles its plans for a high-speed rail project as Governor-elect Scott Walker has proposed.

Seattle-based Talgo says it has enough work to keep it in Wisconsin through early 2012, but its prospects beyond that are as uncertain as the rail project's future.

Talgo spokeswoman Nora Friend said Friday the company will have 40 employees by the end of the month and had expected to ramp up to 125 workers. She says it's hard to stand by any staffing predictions now.

Walker has criticized the high-speed rail that would link Madison and Milwaukee as a waste of taxpayer money. The $810 million project was to be funded by federal stimulus money.

Walker didn't immediately return a message Friday.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED: Thursday, November 4, 2010 --- 9:00 p.m.
By: Chris Woodard

Things just got interesting for supporters of the rail project now facing the reality the entire project may be scrapped.

They won't quit without a fight.

Dave Cieslewicz, Tom Barrett and Ron Krueger are in the same boat.

Three mayors and three supporters of high speed rail, all worried what scrapping the project could mean for their cities.

Like the others Madison Mayor Cieslewicz says he understands Governor Jim Doyle's decision to put the project on hold. What he's worried about is Governor-elect Scott Walker's ability to make it go away completely.

Cieslewicz says, "This is about thousands of jobs poised, ready to go right now, people who could be to work almost literally tomorrow."

While Cieslewicz points out building the line would create jobs Milwaukee Mayor Barrett, who just lost to Walker in the governor's race, says his concern is with losing jobs.

Talgo Inc. builds and maintains high speed trains and built a headquarters in Milwaukee.

They've already hired 40 and planned to hire 125.

Barrett says, "If these trains are not built for Wisconsin that would raise many questions as to Talgo's future here in the city of Milwaukee. Milwaukee has an investment in Talgo because of our interest in providing employment."

Tonight the Daily Reporter reports a Talgo spokesperson saying they would be forced to shut down operations in Milwaukee if the rail project is scrapped.

And Watertown Mayor Krueger says his city was counting on an economic boost from building a rail station where he hoped hundreds would stop and spend money and says tonight he is disappointed and disheartened.

Three mayors realize they're suddenly fighting an uphill battle but vow to do all they can to keep the train on the tracks.

Both Barrett and Cieslewicz say they fear if the project is scrapped the 810-million dollars in federal money will go to another state.

They don't believe Walker will be able to convince the federal government to keep that money here for use on roads and bridges like wants.

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UPDATED Thursday, November 4, 2010 -- 5:30pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: Tuesday night Scott Walker was elected the next Governor of Wisconsin. He campaigned on stopping the train and his victory seemed to impact the decisions of current Governor Jim Doyle.

Pat Goss is the Executive Director of the WIsconsin Transportation Builders Association. He says the Department of Transportation told one of their members to start, then stop work on the high speed rail line. "The contractor was told yesterday morning that they were given the notice to proceed on the project. Four hours after that that notice was rescinded by the Department of Transportation."

The order to temporarily stop could lead to lay-offs. "You've got a contractor that assumed they were going to have work next year for their employees and not an insignificant amount of work," says Goss. "They're concerned about the impact this will have on their employees and on their company."

"Well I've had an opportunity to talk to the Governor so i have a pretty good idea what he's thinking." Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz says a stop and the announcement of lay-offs may force Walker to reconsider. "I'd like to talk about this issue in some detail and see what i can do about getting him to allow us to make a longer stronger case for this."

Doyle has been trying to commit as much money on the project as possible, recently signing contracts for all $810 million.

Goss says they did not imagine Doyle would stop the rail line without a fight. "We assumed that the current administration would continue to move forward and push this project. We're a little caught off guard when the notice came."

Cieslewicz says Doyle is not giving up. This is just the next move to save the train. "I respect his decision I think he's trying to work this out trying to understand what the next moves ought to be so I have to respect that."

Governor Doyle would not comment on his decision today.

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UPDATED Thursday, November 4, 2010 --- 4:45 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says the decision to suspend work on an Wisconsin high-speed train line could end up costing jobs in Milwaukee.

The trains were to be built by Spanish-based Talgo Inc. The company built its Wisconsin headquarters in Milwaukee, where it planned to create 125 jobs.

Barrett said Thursday those jobs may be in jeopardy. He says Talgo will have 40 hires by Nov. 30, and the company has enough work to keep it in Milwaukee through the spring of 2012, but future prospects are now uncertain.

A lobbyist says the state has ordered a contractor to suspend work on the train line planned to connect Madison and Milwaukee.

Barrett also says if the project is killed he doesn't want to see the stimulus funds behind it to go to another state.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, November 4, 2010 --- 4:20 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Outgoing Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's administration has asked contractors to suspend work on a high-speed rail line from Madison to Milwaukee while it studies the potential impact of stopping the project.

Department of Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi said the suspension would last while the agency studies "the real world consequences, including the immediate impacts to people and their livelihoods, if this project were to be stopped."

The statement comes two days after Republican Scott Walker was elected governor to replace Doyle, a Democrat.

Walker has vowed to follow through on his campaign promise to kill the $810 million project, which is to be funded by federal stimulus dollars.

Busalacchi says the suspension will last "a few days."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, November 4, 2010 --- 3:00 p.m.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Statement from Secretary Frank J. Busalacchi
November 4, 2010

At the Governor's request, I have asked contractors and consultants working on the high speed rail project to temporarily interrupt their work for a few days.

In light of the election results, our agency will be taking a few days to assess the real world consequences, including the immediate impacts to people and their livelihoods, if this project were to be stopped

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UPDATED Thursday, November 4, 2010 --- 3:30 p.m.

Scott Walker Statement On High-Speed Rail
Wauwatosa – Governor-Elect Scott Walker today released the following statement on high-speed rail:

“Since learning about the state’s agreement with the federal government we have been exploring all legal options to stop the train from moving forward, and we believe this is a step in the right direction. We are continuing to work with members of congress on redirecting this money to fixing our crumbing roads and bridges.”

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UPDATED Thursday, November 4, 2010 --- 3:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Jim Doyle's administration has asked contractors to suspend work on the high-speed rail line from Madison to Milwaukee while his administration studies the potential impact of stopping the project.

Department of Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi said the suspension would last while the agency studies "the real world consequences, including the immediate impacts to people and their livelihoods, if this project were to be stopped."

His statement comes two days after Republican Scott Walker was elected governor to replace Doyle, a Democrat. Walker has vowed to follow through on his campaign promise to kill the $810 million project, which will be funded by federal stimulus dollars.

Busalacchi said the suspension would last for "a few days."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, November 4, 2010 --- 1:40 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A lobbyist says the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has told a contractor to suspend work on the high-speed train line connecting Madison and Milwaukee.

Pat Goss, executive director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, says the department sent an e-mail Thursday to contractor Edward Kraemer & Sons telling the firm to suspend work on a stretch of tracks in Jefferson County.

Goss says the department did not say why the work should be halted or if the project is being scrapped altogether.

The e-mail comes just two days after the election of Republican Scott Walker as governor. Walker has vowed to kill the $810 million project, which is to be built with federal stimulus funds.

Outgoing Gov. Jim Doyle has tried to lock the project in place before leaving office.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Wednesday, November 3, 2010 --- 5:30 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Governor-elect Scott Walker says lawyers are "coming out of the woodwork" with suggestions for him about how to stop a proposed high-speed rail line connecting Madison to Milwaukee.

Walker said Wednesday that he thinks there are a variety of options to stop the project which is being paid for with $810 million in federal stimulus money. Outgoing Gov. Jim Doyle's administration signed deals with federal officials committing to spending all of the money on the project.

The Republican Walker made his pledge to stop the project part of his successful run for governor. But supporters of the project say that will cost the state money as it has to give back what is already spent and break the deals entered into by Doyle.

But Walker says he thinks a way can be found to get out of the project, which he says most voters do not want and is a waste of money.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Monday, November 1, 2010 --- 11:02 p.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Transportation officials confirm Wisconsin and federal administrators have signed a deal to commit the state to spending all $810 million of federal stimulus cash allocated to a proposed Milwaukee-to-Madison high-speed rail line.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the agreement was reached just days before Tuesday's election.

The deal frees outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's administration to sign contracts for much of the work. That could stymie efforts by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and fellow Republicans to kill the project.

Walker, the GOP candidate for governor, calls the deal "raw political power at its worst."

But Cari Anne Renlund, executive assistant to state Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi, says the Doyle administration was only following its original plan for the project to create construction jobs as soon as possible.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, September 23, 2010 --- 2:20 p.m.

Release from the DOT:
Pre-construction public information meeting planned in Waterloo for high speed rail project: Meeting to provide plans for land bridges

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is announcing a public information meeting to present plans for the construction of land bridges in Jefferson County as part of the Milwaukee—Madison High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail project. The meeting is scheduled from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on October 6, 2010 and will be held at Waterloo High School, 865 N. Monroe Street, Waterloo, WI. WisDOT will provide a brief presentation at 5:30 p.m.

At the meeting WisDOT and consultant staff will be available to answer questions and discuss the construction of three land bridges within the existing state-owned rail corridor in the towns of Waterloo and Milford in Jefferson County. Information on construction activities and schedules will be provided. Project plans will also be available for review.

The public is encouraged to attend the meeting and ask questions concerning this project. If you are unable to attend the meeting, or would like more information, contact Alyssa Macy at 414-550-9407. Written comments regarding the project can be mailed to Alyssa Macy, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, High-Speed Passenger Rail Program Management Team, 433 W. St. Paul Avenue, Suite 300, Milwaukee, WI 53203-3007.

The meeting site is accessible to wheelchair. To request an interpreter for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, please call 1-800-WI-RELAY, the Wisconsin Telecommunication Relay System, by Thursday, September 30th. Ask the communication assistant to contact Alyssa Macy of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation at (414) 550-9407.

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UPDATED Wednesday, September 1, 2010 --- 7:25 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Department of Transportation has a $12 million plan for a passenger rail station in Madison.

The DOT unveiled its project design Tuesday evening for the station that will be located next to Monona Terrace.

State and local officials are still negotiating a cost-sharing arrangement for the station. DOT spokesman Paul Trombino says the state would own and operate the station.

The state budgeted $24 million to build stations along the rail line from Madison to Milwaukee. The State Journal says that includes $9 million for Madison and $5 million each for Watertown, Oconomowoc and Brookfield. Plans for the Oconomowoc station have since been dropped.

Information from:
Wisconsin State Journal
http://www.madison.com/wsj

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 27, 2010 -- 5:15pm
By Zac Schultz

Sun Prairie: Four cities along the high speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison say they would like the train to stop there.

A week ago the Department of Transportation officially dropped Oconomowoc as a stop for the high speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison.

It didn't take long for other cities along the route to say they'd like the station instead. "I think Sun Prairie has got some opportunities just because of accessibility," says Sun Prairie Mayor Joe Chase. He says a train station would fit perfectly with their new downtown. "We have over 400 residents within a half a mile of where we had proposed the rail station in our planning efforts five years ago."

The Department of Transportation confirms Sun Prairie, Waterloo, Hartland and Wauwatosa have expressed interest in being a stop on the line.

Wauwatosa is the hometown of Scott Walker, the Republican candidate for governor who has made stopping the train a key part of his campaign. He says the interest isn't real. "Two of the most liberal alderman on the city council are the only ones advocating for it. The mayor has no interest and it's one of those where you've got a couple of fly-by-nights saying they want it."

Chase says the interest in Sun Prairie is real, but only if the numbers make sense. "What is the predicted passengers, not from 2000, but from 2010 and projected. Have you considered the population boom on the east side of Madison that could take advantage of a station on the east side of Dane County."

A DOT official says at this time they are moving forward with the original plan and expect to have the station locations finalized in the next month.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 24, 2010 -- 5:10pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: Every dollar the state spends on high speed rail between now and the end of the year will make it that much more expensive for a Republican governor to stop the project.

And the financial obligations keep growing. "We don't know exactly how much will be spent (by the end of the year)," says DOT Executive Assistant Cari Anne Renlund. "It will depend on how much work gets done. There will be about $300 million under contract for sure."

The state has always expected to spend about $100 million this year, but just a few weeks before the election it will sign contracts to purchase $50-100 million in raw materials like steel and railroad ties. "The next piece is the construction contracts," says Renlund. "That we're estimating about $140 million for that. The first of those contracts will be let in September and contracts executed in October with shovels in the ground by the end of October."

The state received $810 million in federal stimulus money to build the line, but it will cost around $8 million a year to operate it.

Republicans Scott Walker and Mark Neumann say it will be cheaper to pay back the money then to operate the line.

Democratic candidate Tom Barrett supports the train.

Walker's campaign released a statement saying the DOT is accelerating the spending because they know he will win. “If Governor Doyle had any confidence that Tom Barrett would be elected the next governor, they wouldn’t be spending another $200 million beyond earlier estimates of $100 million faster than the federal government can borrow it,” says campaign manager Keith Gilkes.

"That is completely false," says Renlund. She says a Republican governor could stop the project, but it wouldn't be cheap. "The real penalty of cancelling them isn't cancellation clauses that are within them, it is the people that you'll be sending home from the job."

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UPDATED Thursday, August 19, 2010 -- 5:24pm
By Zac Schultz

Oconomowoc: When high speed rail starts running in 2013, it will come through Oconomowoc, it just won't be stopping there.

The DOT sent a letter Tuesday notifying the city. "Based on the interactions we've had with the city, we are no longer pursuing the station in Oconomowoc and we're moving forward with the project," says Paul Trombino, Division Operations Director for DOT.

Trombino says Madison and Watertown have already made strong commitments for their stations, and Brookfield is close. They didn't get that from Oconomowoc. "What we needed from Oconomowoc was a commitment that they want the station."

"I would argue that we've been cooperative in the process while still asking the questions that needed to be asked," says Oconomowoc Mayor Jim Daley. He says they never said no, they just haven't said yes.

Daley is concerned about whether the train will actually bring people to the city. "There needs to be people on the train for it to spur economic development."

Daley says the train station favored by the state would cost $9.8 million, but the federal stimulus funds that are paying for high speed rail only cover $5 million. "We have to look at what our infrastructure costs are, maintenance costs, ongoing upkeep. All these issues affect our taxpayers directly."

While the Mayor is upset, some business owners are not.

Dimitri Glavas owns Maxim Restaurant, which is located in the historic train depot right next to where the the station would have gone. "I wasn't too worked up before the letter, I'm not worked up after the letter."

Glavas says he knows a station would add some business, but he thinks it's a bad idea anyway. "If it stopped here and people came in for a cup of coffee of course we'll sell it to them, but I don't think the whole train is a good idea."

The five million dollars that would have helped build Oconomowoc's station will likely be used to help the other cities build their stations.

Meanwhile, as work continues on a high speed rail line, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin says she has secured federal funds to help create jobs and update warning devices at highway/railroad crossings in Columbia and Dane Counties.

Baldwin secured $750,000 in the Fiscal Year 2011 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Other Related Agencies Appropriations Act.

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UPDATED Thursday, July 29, 2010 -- 4:37pm
By Zac Schultz

Watertown: With their signatures, Governor Jim Doyle and Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood officially transferred $46.5 to Wisconsin.
The money will pay for engineering and design work on the high speed rail line between Milwauke and Madison. Wisconsin has already received $5.7 million for environmental planning.

Overall, the state will receive $810 million to build the line, but this transfer is important to supporters, because the more money spent in 2010, the harder it will be for a possible Republican Governor to stop the project next year.

"High speed rail is coming to Wisconsin," says LaHood. "There's no stopping it. It's coming to America."

Both Republican candidates for Governor, Scott Walker and Mark Neumann, issued statements again saying, if elected they would stop the project.

But Wisconsin wouldn't keep the money, it would be sent to another high speed rail project around the nation. The state would have to repay whatever money has already been spent.

Doyle says stopping the train is an empty threat. "This is happening. People can like it or not."

Watertown Mayor Ron Krueger doesn't understand why people are not on board. "No mattter how often you try and explain the economic benefits to the community they just won't listen."

Watertown's new train station will be just south of the downtown, cornered by the river and the railroad tracks. Currently it is a large parking lot and an empty Pick 'N Save.

City officials are planning a station, a parking ramp, and apartments and condos overlooking the river. "We feel that we can get at least, we're hoping $20-25 million worth of economic development," says Krueger.

The current owners of the property are excited to build. "They're interested and so are other developers," says Krueger. "I had another one call this morning and going to be meeting with him next week."

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UPDATED Thursday, July 29, 2010 --- 1:25 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state of Wisconsin has received another portion of the $810 million in federal stimulus money that will go toward building a high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee.

Gov. Jim Doyle and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the $46.5 million in funding on Thursday in Watertown. The state previously received a $5.7 million payment.

The money will be used in part for engineering, design and track work, signals and communications, and drainage.

Construction of the rail line is expected to begin later this year. It's expected to be done in 2013.

Republican candidates for governor oppose the project and would stop the work if elected. The Democratic Doyle says that's unrealistic.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, July 29, 2010 --- 10:25 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state of Wisconsin has received another portion of the $810 million in federal stimulus money that will go toward building a high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee.

Gov. Jim Doyle and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the $46.5 million in funding on Thursday in Watertown. The state previously received a $5.7 million payment.

The governor says more than 5,500 people will be put to work building the rail line and constructing new stations along the route, including one in Watertown.

Construction of the rail line is expected to begin later this year. It's expected to be done in 2013.

Republican candidates for governor have said they oppose the project and would stop the work if elected. Doyle says that's unrealistic.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, July 29, 2010 --- 8:10 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Jim Doyle and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood say they'll make a major announcement in Watertown on Thursday about the state's planned high-speed rail line.

Doyle and LaHood will be joined by Watertown Mayor Ron Krueger and other officials at Watertown City Hall for a 10 a.m. news conference.

Wisconsin has been awarded $810 million in federal stimulus money to build a high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee.

Watertown will be one of the stops along the route, and a rail station is expected to be built there.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Wednesday, July 28, 2010 --- 12:21 p.m.

Release from the U.S Department of Transportation:

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood to Make
Major High Speed Rail Announcement in Watertown

On Thursday, June 29, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will make a major announcement about high speed rail funding for Wisconsin at City Hall in Watertown. In January, President Obama announced $822 million for Wisconsin high-speed rail as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Governor Jim Doyle, Watertown Mayor Ron Krueger, and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz will also give remarks.

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UPDATED Wednesday, July 21, 2010 --- 2:17 p.m.

Release from the DOT:

Public information meeting for high-speed rail station in Madison
Opportunity for public input on Madison rail station design elements

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is announcing a public information meeting to discuss the Madison high-speed rail station. The discussion is scheduled for Thursday, July 29 from 4:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the Wisconsin Department of Administration building, 101 E. Wilson St., Madison.

The open house meeting will include information on the Madison station design options. Members of the WisDOT project team will be on hand to answer questions and discuss the station. Governor Jim Doyle announced on July 1 that the Monona Terrace station would be located at the Wisconsin Department of Administration building.

If you are unable to attend the meeting or would like more information, visit www.wisconsinrail.gov or contact Alyssa Macy at (414) 550-9407. Written comments regarding the project can be mailed to Wisconsin Department of Transportation, High-speed Passenger Rail Team, 433 W. St. Paul Avenue, Suite 300, Milwaukee, WI 53203-3007. Citizens who are deaf or hard of hearing and require an interpreter may request one by contacting Alyssa Macy prior to the meeting via the Wisconsin Telecommunications Relay System (dial 711).

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UPDATED Wednesday, July 14, 2010 --- 11:15 a.m.

Press Release from Supervisors Don Imhoff and Bill Clausius:
DANE COUNTY SUPERVISORS CALL FOR COUNTYWIDE REFERENDUM ON WHETHER SALES TAX SHOULD BE INCREASED TO FUND COMMUTER RAIL.

Dane County Supervisors today proposed a referendum that would allow County residents to vote on whether sales taxes should be increased to fund commuter rail. The RTA (Regional Transportation Authority) has the power to increase Dane County’s sales tax and to issue bonds for financing expansions in public transit. The RTA has said its long-term, strategic vision will be guided by the Transport 2020 Report, which calls for the construction of a 16-mile commuter rail network through the Madison area.

This commuter rail line would be the largest infrastructure project in Dane County history, and the higher sales taxes necessary to support this venture would impact every consumer in the County. This would also represent the first time an unelected public agency in Wisconsin has been allowed to raise sales taxes and issue bonds under its own authority. Given the magnitude of public transit projects and the precedent of allowing unelected officials to raise taxes and issue debt, several Supervisors believe that all Dane County residents should have a voice this November on whether an increase in the sales tax should go forward.

These supervisors have therefore called for the following language to be placed on the countywide ballot at the Fall Election scheduled for November 2, 2010:

“Shall commuter rail from Middleton to the Town of Burke be funded by a half-cent (0.5%) increase in the sales tax?”

“This is a critical election,” said Supervisor Bill Clausius (Sun Prairie). “Citizens are increasingly concerned about greater spending and more debt at all levels of government. The RTA has almost unrestricted powers to issue bonds and raise sales taxes in the County by 0.5% to fund their transportation plans. The county-wide public deserves a voice on whether this is a wise decision, especially given the still perilous state of the economy and the certainty that higher taxes take money out of consumers’ pockets and reduce economic activity in our region.”

Supervisor Don Imhoff (Madison) also noted that the RTA has said publicly it would hold a referendum on whether to raise sales taxes and abide by the public’s vote. “This referendum should be held at the first available opportunity, which is the November election. However, the RTA jurisdictional area boundary set by the state Legislature only covers a portion of the county. This referendum provides a county-wide voice to be heard and will effectively communicate the wishes of Dane County residents to the unelected members of the RTA.”

Supervisor Duane Gau (Bristol, Sun Prairie) said, “The Dane County Board directed the new RTA to hold a referendum within its jurisdictional boundary. However, because the County is not able to print ballots for the areas within the RTA in time for the November election, only a county-wide ballot will allow for a November 2010 referendum.”

Other Dane County Supervisors supporting this resolution include Eileen Bruskewitz, Ronn Ferrell, Jerry Jensen, Jack Martz, Dennis O’Loughlin, David Ripp, Bob Salov, Kurt Schlict, Cynda Solberg, David Wiganowsky, and Michael Willett.

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UPDATED Wednesday, July 14, 2010 --- 10:30 a.m.

Press Release from Dane County Supervisors Don Imhoff and Bill Clausius:

DANE COUNTY SUPERVISORS TO INTRODUCE A RESOLUTION CALLING FOR COUNTYWIDE REFERENDUM ON WHETHER SALES TAX SHOULD BE INCREASED TO FUND COMMUTER RAIL

Several Dane County Supervisors today, Wednesday July 14, 2020 at 12:15pm at the City-County building will be announcing a proposed referendum that would allow County residents to vote on whether sales taxes should be increased to fund commuter rail.

NBC15's Zac Schultz will attend today's media briefing. Watch for his reports tonight on NBC15 News and NBC15.com.

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UPDATED Thursday, July 8, 2010 --- 3:48 p.m.

Release from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation:

Community workshop for high-speed rail station in Watertown
Opportunity for public input on station

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is announcing a community workshop to discuss the Watertown high-speed rail station. The workshop is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on July 15, 2010 at the Watertown Senior and Community Center, 514 S. First Street, Watertown.

The workshop will include information on the Watertown station site and a corridor overview. Members of the WisDOT project team will be on hand to answer questions and discuss the station site.

The public is encouraged to attend the meeting, provide input and ask questions concerning the project. Maps showing the potential site will be on display.

If you are unable to attend the workshop or would like more information, contact Alyssa Macy at (414) 550-9407. Written comments regarding the project can be mailed to Wisconsin Department of Transportation, High-speed Passenger Rail Team, 433 W. St. Paul Avenue, Suite 300, Milwaukee, WI 53203-3007. Citizens who are deaf or hard of hearing and require an interpreter may request one by contacting Alyssa Macy at least three working days prior to the meeting via the Wisconsin Telecommunications Relay System (dial 711).

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UPDATED Thursday, July 1, 2010 --- 10:30 a.m.

Announcement from the Governor's Office:

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle announced today that Madison’s high speed rail station will be located at the Wisconsin Department of Administration building at 101 E. Wilson St in downtown Madison. Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz joined Governor Doyle for the announcement.

“I’m pleased to announce that after further study, and after considering public input from workshops held earlier this month, the new rail station will be located at 101 E. Wilson St.,” Governor Doyle said. “We have been working with the community to make this a station everyone can be proud of and this location provides a good jumping off point for that discussion. We’ll work to do this in a way that not only makes sense but also in a way that showcases Madison and Wisconsin.”

“For Madison, this location not only means a successful high speed rail line downtown, but it also means an exciting redevelopment of the surrounding blocks,” Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said. “This site brings tremendous potential for an intermodal station as well as economic development. I want to thank Governor Doyle and DOT for considering public input in their decision. We are excited to continue working with the state to make this station successful and to capitalize on the potential it creates.”

About 200 people attended public workshops hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to discuss the location of the rail station. According to public comments regarding the location, people are looking the station to provide good intermodal connections for buses, taxis, bicyclists, and pedestrians. People commenting also said that design of the station is important and the station design should focus on overall customer experience.

In January, Governor Doyle announced Wisconsin will receive $823 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to build high-speed rail service to connect its centers of commerce and create thousands of jobs. Wisconsin is receiving $810 million to build high-speed passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Madison, $12 million to improve service between Chicago and Milwaukee, and $1 million to make final determinations on a route between Wisconsin and the Twin Cities – the next step toward connecting Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison with the Twin Cities. The project is estimated to create thousands of jobs in Wisconsin in fields like construction, engineering, design and supply.

Construction of the rail segment between Madison and Milwaukee will begin this year.

By 2013, people will be able to ride in modern, Wisconsin made train cars from Madison to Chicago and beyond.

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UPDATED Thursday, July 1, 2010 --- 10:15 a.m.

State leaders have announced the new rail station in downtown Madison will be located at the current Department of Administration building (which is located 101 E. Wilson St.)

Stay with NBC15 and NBC15.com for continuing coverage.

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UPDATE Posted Wednesday, May 12, 2010 -- 5:39pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: In early 2013, passengers will board an Amtrak train at Milwaukee's downtown station. But instead of heading south towards Chicago, it will go west and make the maiden voyage on the high speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison.

"It's a really dumb thing to do." Bill Richardson will not be on that first trip. As a retired UW music professor, Richardson has made advocating against passenger rail a second career. "It would still be faster to get in your car and drive to Milwaukee and vice-versa."

Opponents of high speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison have a number of different arguments, but their first two are always it's too expensive, and it's not needed.

"It's a very expensive proposition. There's not much in the way of benefits there," says Larry Kaufmann, a Senior Advisor for the Pacific Economics Group. He'll be able to see the train come into Madison from his downtown office. "The incremental costs associated with that project are well beyond any benefits I would expect to see."

The federal government has awarded the state $810 million to upgrade the tracks, buy the trainsets, the locomotives and build four stations.

It's a lot of money, but opponents don't think it's enough. "I think there will be cost overruns, there almost always are," says Kaufmann.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation agrees there will be overruns. Chris Klein is the Executive Assistant at DOT. "There's funding in there already built in for contingencies, which is unexpected costs and inflation."

The state estimates the project will cost $651 million in today's dollars. That leaves an extra $159 million for overruns and inflation over the life of the project. "If they went over we would have to apply for more money or the state would pick it up," says Klein.

So it appears the upfront costs are paid for. But is it needed?

When that first train leaves Milwaukee for Madison, someone else will likely leave on a bus, and beat the train to Madison. " If you compare this line with just driving down I-94 to Milwaukee it doesn't represent an improvement on any level," says Kaufmann.

A study by U.S. Government Accountability Office from March of 2009 says passenger rail lines can best compete with air and car travel between 100 and 500 miles. Milwaukee to Madison is 85 miles.

"This is not an efficient use of that type of rail, because it's such a short distance and it's making several stops along the way," says Richardson.

Klein agrees that just linking Madison and Milwaukee is pointless. "There is a misconception out there that we are building a commuter rail line between Milwaukee and Madison. That is not what we're doing."

The Midwest Regional Rail System links Chicago to Detroit, St. Louis, Indianapolis and one day Minneapolis- St. Paul.

Chicago to Minneapolis is 400 miles, fitting the GAO standards. "The goal of this whole project is to connect the Twin Cities and Chicago and Madison is lucky enough to be in the middle," says Klein.

It could cost another $1 billion to get all the way to Minnesota. "I do agree that the Madison to Minneapolis makes more sense," says Kaufmann. "But again you have to look at the cost."

Klein says the cost will be offset by the increased development. "The economic development and the boom that you get from passenger rail is not projected, it's happened all across the country where ever rail spurs up."

A 2004 report by the Midwest Regional Rail System projects a rail line from Chicago to Minneapolis would create $704 million dollars in development and 9,500 jobs for Wisconsin.

Opponents say any new development is just pulled from somewhere else by the rail line.

"It's really an artificial kind of thing. It's not private development as such, it's the government forcing private development," says Richardson.

"There would be some obvious development right along the rail line and the rail corridor," says Kaufmann. "That would only be brought in from other parts of the territory."

Klein agrees rail redistributes development, but says it happens on a regional scale. "If we could pull companies that considering relocating to Chicago and locate them in Madison or Milwaukee or Watertown or Oconomowoc or Brookfield, that would be great."

Part two of our Special Assignment is Thursday night at 6pm. We will take a look how much it will cost the taxpayers to operate this rail line once it's up and running.

Part Two added Thursday, May 13, 2010 -- 5:46pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: The Milwaukee to Madison high speed rail line is fully funded, with the federal government paying $810 million to upgrade the tracks, buy the trains, locomotives and build four stations.

Despite that, many opponents say high speed rail is still too expensive for Wisconsin.

"There is a lot of cost after it's built," says activist Bill Richardson. He and economist Larry Kaufmann think the state should have said no to the project because of the operating subsidy.

"It really has the potential of being a white elephant," says Kaufmann.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation estimates the Milwaukee to Madison line will cost $16.5 million to operate when it opens in 2013. They are projecting revenues of $9 million. That leaves a $7.5 million loss for the state to subsidize.

"That's in addition to the $8 million we're already paying down in Milwaukee," says Richardson. "Now we're talking $15.6 million every year to start-that's just to start."

Wisconsin splits the cost of the Milwaukee to Chicago Hiawatha service with Illinois. The amount of subsidy is almost entirely dependent on ridership.

By 2013, DOT projects 832,000 will ride the Milwaukee-Chicago leg, while 338,000 will travel the Milwaukee-Madison segment.

"The projections are extremely high in my opinion," says Richardson.

Chris Klein is the Executive Assistant at DOT. He says a private consultant and Amtrak came to similar projections. "Traditionally, Amtrak has been very conservative when it comes to ridership projections."

The U.S Government Accountability Office study from March of 2009 says ridership projections are 'uncertain.'

However, Klein says the Milwaukee to Chicago service is a good indicator. "The riders are flocking to that line and there's no reason to believe that won't continue when you extend that service to Madison."

But no matter how accurate the projections may be, high speed rail will have to be subsidized by the state's transportation fund.

Half of that is paid for by drivers, either through the gas tax or vehicle registration fees. "It's all coming out of a pot that's already been paid as a user fee," says Richardson. "To me it's very unfair to people who are already paying the high taxes."

"We don't have a highway fund, it's a transportation fund," says Klein. The transportation fund provides money for roads, airports, harbors, buses and rail.

"The people driving the cars will still be supporting the rail even though they're never going to take it," says Richardson.

"Highways are heavily subsidized as well," says Klein.

Drivers pay for half of the transportation fund, but roads make up 62% of the budget. The federal government and borrowing make up the difference. "Roads are no different than rail when the feds give you money to build that system, they're done at the moment they give you money to build," says Klein. "It's up to you to operate and maintain it."

As for drivers paying for a rail system they won't use, DOT Division Operations Director Paul Trombino says that happens with roads too. The Marquette Interchange in Milwaukee cost $810 million, but not every driver in the state uses it. "But we share in the cost of that transportation because of the public good that it is, and that it derives from us in an economic benefit."

A $7.5 million subsidy may not sound like within a $3.2 billion transportation fund, but Larry Kaufmann says for only 85 miles of track, it's not worth it. "The subsidy per mile for rail is well beyond the subsidy for autos and highways."

There are only two things we know for sure; the high speed rail line is going to be built and we won't have solid answers on whether it was worth it for decades. Even then the results will still be debated.

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UPDATE Posted Friday, May 7, 2010 -- 5:18pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: Governor Doyle's announcement of the Monona Terrace high speed rail station seems to have caught quite a few of you off guard.

Based on some of your comments on our Facebook wall, It seems there's still some confusion about high speed rail and where the money comes from.

1. It's a done deal.
The first thing we should clarify is the Milwaukee to Madison high speed rail line is a done deal.

Last year, the Recovery Act approved $8 billion in stimulus money for high speed rail projects around the country. Wisconsin submitted an application.

In January, the federal government awarded Wisconsin $823 million for high speed rail. $12 million will be used to upgrade the existing Milwaukee to Chicago line. $810 million will be used to extend service from Milwaukee to Madison. $1 million will be used to study a future extension from Madison to the Twin Cities.

In February, the legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 to accept the money. That gave authority to the Department of Transportation to go forward with the project.

2. It has (at times) been a bipartisan effort.
Which leads us to point number two, applying for this money has been a long bipartisan project. The effort to bring high speed rail to Wisconsin started in 1993 under Gov. Tommy Thompson and was continued under Gov. Doyle.

One of the reasons Wisconsin got so much high speed rail money is this project already had the planning and environmental studies complete.

In fact, until the money for the process came from stimulus funds, it had a number of Republican supporters.

3. High speed rail is paid for with federal money.
Point three is more clarification on where the money for high speed rail comes from. Wisconsin has been awarded up to $810 million to build the Milwaukee to Madison line.

That's all federal money. None of it comes from state tax dollars.

The subsidy to operate the line once it is running will come from state dollars. That's estimated to be around $7.5 million a year, but will likely increase over time.

4. Can a Republican Gov. stop the train?
The subsidy question leads us to point four, can a Republican governor stop the project next January? The answer is yes, but it won't be easy or cheap.

Both of the main Republican candidates for Governor have said they will attempt to stop the project if they are elected. But they won't take office until next January. At that time, they could direct the Department of Transportation to stop all work.

However, a number of contracts will be signed this summer and construction will start this year. That means the state would have to pay back the federal government all money spent on the project so far. That could be a lot money.

5. Why spend money on rail when we have other needs?
Question five seems to be the most commonly misunderstood. A number of Facebook comments asked why the state is spending on rail instead of things like schools.

This money can only be used for high speed rail. If a Republican governor does stop the project, all the money the state repays and whatever hasn't been spent will be awarded to another state for a different high speed rail project.

Now if you want to question why the federal government is spending $8 billion on high speed rail, that's a different debate.

6. Is this commuter rail?
Some people are still confusing high speed rail with commuter rail. High speed rail is passenger rail that is an extension of the Milwaukee to Chicago service. One day they may extend the line from Madison to the Twin Cities.

Commuter rail is a county plan to provide rail service from Sun Prairie to Middleton. The two modes of transit will likely hook up at the Monona Terrace Station.

High speed is fully funded and it's happening. Commuter rail will cost at least $250 million and it has not been funded or approved. If the Dane County Regional transit authority imposes and extra half-percent sales tax on Dane County, that money could be used to pay for commuter rail, but it's still years away, while High speed will be here in 2013.

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UPDATE Posted Thursday, May 6, 2010 -- 5:05pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: The state had four options for Madison's high speed rail station. The Dane County Regional Airport, the Yahara River on East Washington Ave., the Kohl Center and the Monona Terrace.

Gov. Doyle says when their analysis showed more people would ride the train if it stopped downtown, the Monona Terrace was the clear winner. "The Monona Terrace has access to many bus lines, taxis and is within walking distance of the Capitol, the convention center, businesses and hotels."

The tracks pass right under the terrace, along John Nolen Drive. The state has not picked an exact location for the station, but it will be along Wilson Street and if they don't build new, they could just remodel. "There are some suggestions about how you take some existing buildings and put the station on the first floor of those buildings and then move down to the tracks," says Doyle.

"This is by far the best place for a high speed rail connection in Madison," says Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. The city already has plans to tear down a parking ramp on Wilson St. and build an underground parking ramp that will stretch from the current ramp to the edge of the Madison Municipal Building. The ramp will hold 1,200 cars.

The Mayor expects a hotel to be built on top of one part of the ramp, while the public market and commercial space will be where the current ramp is located.

"This is going to be a catalyst for further development downtown," says Cieslewicz.

Work on improving the rail lines will begin this year. Work on the actual station will start later, but the high speed rail line will be up and running by 2013.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz also announced he plans to ask federal authorities to name the station the Governor Jim Doyle Monona Terrace Station.

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UPDATED Thursday, May 6, 2010 --- 1:45 p.m.

Scott Walker Statement on High Speed Rail Announcement

Wauwatosa – Scott Walker, Milwaukee County executive and candidate for governor, today released the following statement on the Governor Doyle’s announcement regarding the high-speed rail line from Milwaukee to Madison:

"Every announcement by Governor Doyle and Mayor Barrett on their controversial train boondoggle further commits our state to their pet project that taxpayers literally cannot afford. Our state’s transportation fund has been raided to the tune of $1.2 billion, which has delayed badly needed investment in our existing roads and bridges across Wisconsin. As governor, I will stop this misguided and wasteful project.”

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UPDATED Thursday, May 6, 2010 --- 1:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The high-speed rail stop in Madison will be near the Monona Terrace downtown.

Gov. Jim Doyle announced Thursday that the Monona Terrace had been selected as the best place to locate the stop in the state capital.

Doyle says the stop was better than the other three options examined which were at the airport, near downtown on the east side and the Kohl Center on the University of Wisconsin campus.

Doyle says work on the rail line connecting Madison and Milwaukee will begin this year with it scheduled to be done by 2013. Wisconsin was awarded $823 million in federal stimulus money to construct the rail line.

Other stops include Brookfield, Watertown and Oconomowoc.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, May 6, 2010 --- 11:40 a.m.

From NBC15's Zac Schultz: Governor announces Monona Terrace to be site of high-speed rail station in Madison.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said it will be an Intermodal rail location (hooks-up with Metro and eventually commuter rail). He hopes to be able to build an underground parking structure that can hold 1200 vehicles.

Mayor Cieslewicz also says he wants the federal government to name the station the "Governor Jim Doyle Monona Terrace Station."

Press Release from the Governor's Office:
Governor Doyle Announces Madison High Speed Rail Station Location

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle announced today that Madison’s high speed rail station will be located downtown at the Monona Terrace. Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and state Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Frank Busalacchi joined Governor Doyle for the announcement.

“The Monona Terrace station will maximize ridership to and from Madison, and will provide easy access to other forms of transportation, the State Capitol, the convention center, businesses and hotels,” Governor Doyle said. “There were several other very good potential locations in Madison, but when considering all the factors, the Monona Terrace is clearly the best option. In 2013, Wisconsin will have modern high speed rail running from downtown Chicago to downtown Milwaukee to downtown Madison – a model for the future of rail in this country.”

“Bringing high speed rail to the heart of downtown Madison creates tremendous potential for economic development, regional transportation and a successful rail line for years to come,” Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said. “I want to thank Governor Doyle for his incredible leadership in bringing high speed rail to Madison and bringing the station to the Monona Terrace.”

In order to select a final station location in Madison, the state considered all of the analyses and environmental studies done in the past decade. At Governor Doyle’s direction, the state DOT conducted a feasibility assessment of four specific site options in Madison – Monona Terrace, Dane County Airport, First Street, and the Kohl Center. The assessment included a review of rail operations, ridership, access to other forms of transportation, parking, traffic impacts, environmental issues, cost, site geometrics and opportunities for economic development.

The state will now proceed with a complete environmental assessment of the Monona Terrace station location, which will include opportunities for the public to provide further comments. Construction of the segment between Madison and Milwaukee will begin this year. By 2013, people will be able to ride in modern, Wisconsin made train cars from Madison to Chicago and beyond.

In January, Governor Doyle announced Wisconsin will receive $823 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to build high-speed rail service to connect its centers of commerce and create thousands of jobs. Wisconsin is receiving $810 million to build high-speed passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Madison, $12 million to improve service between Chicago and Milwaukee, and $1 million to make final determinations on a route between Wisconsin and the Twin Cities – the next step toward connecting Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison with the Twin Cities. The project is estimated to create thousands of jobs in Wisconsin in fields like construction, engineering, design and supply.

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UPDATED Thursday, May 6, 2010 --- 10:10 a.m.

This morning, Governor Jim Doyle will make a major high speed rail announcement. It is scheduled to take place at 11:30 a.m. at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison. The Governor will be joined by Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi.

There is speculation the Governor will announce the Madison location for a high-speed rail station. Locations under consideration include the Dane County Regional Airport, Yahara Station, and the Monona Terrace Convention Center.

Stay with NBC15 and NBC15.com for continuing coverage.

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 30, 2010 --- 5:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- State Rep. Brett Davis has introduced a bill to block spending on a high-speed train between Madison and Milwaukee.

Davis, a Republican from Oregon, Wis., is running for lieutenant governor. He appeared at a news conference with Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, a Republican running for governor against Democrat Tom Barrett, to complain about the project.

They say the state can't afford the train's estimated $7.5 million annual upkeep, especially when the state needs to repair its roads, including a crumbling Milwaukee interchange.

Davis' bill would halt all spending on the project, but the measure has almost no chance of passing with Democrats in charge of both legislative houses.

Gov. Jim Doyle called the bill ridiculous.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 30, 2010 --- 2:25 p.m.

Release from Rep. Brett Davis' Office:
Davis Authors Bill to Block Funding for Madison to Milwaukee Train Project

Cites expensive price tag and lack of need as reasons to halt the project

MADISON...State Representative Brett Davis (R-Oregon) announced today he has authored legislation to stop funding for the proposed high speed train project from Madison to Milwaukee. The controversial train route, which has widespread opposition around the state, is expected to cost taxpayers millions of dollars in maintenance and operational costs in addition to the initial $810 million price tag.

“There are too many unanswered questions to allow this project to move forward so quickly without consideration by the full Legislature,” Davis said. “From questionable no-bid contracts and low ridership demand, to expected ongoing operational costs in the millions, all spending on this project must be stopped.”

Specifically the legislation would prohibit any further expenditure of state, federal or local funds for any costs related to the Madison to Milwaukee high speed rail project. If the bill passes, the high speed rail project could only move forward after a vote by the full State Legislature and approval of the governor. In this regard, the legislation would treat approval of the Madison to Milwaukee project like all other major highway development projects under current law.

“The state’s transportation fund is already stretched to the limit with a current deficit of 30 million dollars,” explained Davis. “This project will suck funding out of the transportation fund and result in less money and further delays for much needed road projects around the state.”

Davis cited the crumbling Zoo Interchange Highway in the Milwaukee area as a vital project on the horizon for the state that should receive a higher priority than the train. The Zoo Interchange is expected to cost upwards of $2 billion and handles the same amount of traffic in one day than the train is expected to handle in one year. Originally, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation estimated initial construction costs for the train at over $817 million. However, the state only received $810 million in federal “stimulus” funding, leaving a $17.6 million gap. According the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau it is also estimated that by its completion in 2013, the high speed train would need an annual subsidy of at least $7.5 million from state taxpayers to operate at the expected round-trip ticket price of $60.

“The next governor will already be facing billions of dollars in budget deficits due to the lack of responsible leadership by the current administration,” Davis explained. “All funding and work needs to be halted immediately because it is clear the taxpayers are not able to afford yet another Doyle boondoggle.”

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 2, 2010 --- 11:32 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Gov. Jim Doyle says a Spanish train company will create 125 new jobs at its new assembly plant in Milwaukee.

The Talgo plant is expected to begin production in November at the former Tower Automotive site.

Doyle said Tuesday at a news conference in Milwaukee that Talgo's decision to locate in Wisconsin means the state will lead the way in high speed rail production.

Talgo executive Antonio Perez says the company chose Milwaukee because of its harbor and its proximity to a local rail station.

Wisconsin has a $47 million deal with Talgo to build two 14-car trains for Amtrak's Milwaukee-to-Chicago line. It also has an option for two additional trains to serve a Milwaukee-to-Madison route.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 2, 2010 --- 10:34 a.m.

Release from the Office of the Governor:

Governor Doyle Welcomes Talgo Assembly Facility to Milwaukee:
Will Create 125 Direct Jobs in Wisconsin Manufacturing and Assembling High Speed Trains

MILWAUKEE – Governor Jim Doyle announced today that Talgo will locate its U.S. high-speed passenger rail manufacturing and assembly facility at the former Tower Automotive site in Milwaukee, creating 125 direct jobs in Wisconsin and about 450 indirect jobs through vendors throughout the Midwest. The announcement strengthens Wisconsin’s status as a national leader in high speed passenger rail manufacturing and builds on the Recovery Act’s $823 million investment in the state’s high speed rail network.

“I’m proud Talgo will locate its U.S. rail car assembly facility at the former Tower Automotive site in Milwaukee,” Governor Doyle said. “The new Talgo facility will create 125 direct jobs in our state, manufacturing and assembling Talgo trains for Wisconsin and states across the country. Through the Recovery Act and this facility, Wisconsin will see real economic benefits of high speed rail for generations to come. High speed rail is the future of transportation – and it is a really great thing for the state of Wisconsin to be leading the way.”

“Talgo has made a business decision to locate the manufacturing facilities in the Milwaukee Tower Automotive site after careful consideration of the sites presented to us in a quite open process,” Talgo CEO and President Antonio Perez said. “Our analysis included the following criteria: economic conditions, technical/operational conditions, logistics, cost of living, training facilities in the vicinity and availability of a skilled workforce. We believe that the Tower site will allow us not only to deliver the train sets on time and with our high standards of quality, but it will also allow for future growth. We appreciate the effort put forth by all the other communities that expressed interest."

“Once again, we have demonstrated that by working together, by using every appropriate economic development tool, and by selling Milwaukee’s strengths we can attract jobs to our community,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “I am confident our partnership with Talgo will produce benefits throughout the region.”

In July, Governor Doyle announced the state’s agreement with Talgo to purchase two train sets for its Hiawatha line and an agreement to establish the company’s assembly and maintenance facility in the state. Not only will Wisconsin’s Talgo trains be built in Milwaukee, the Talgo rail car assembly plant will support the delivery of Talgo trains throughout the country and create hundreds of jobs through its supply chain vendors in the Midwest and U.S. Last week, the state of Oregon announced it has purchased two Talgo train sets that will be assembled in Wisconsin – saving both states millions of dollars.

In January, Governor Doyle announced Wisconsin will receive $823 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to build high-speed rail service to connect its centers of commerce and create thousands of jobs. Wisconsin is receiving $810 million to build high-speed passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Madison, $12 million to improve service between Chicago and Milwaukee, and $1 million to make final determinations on a route between Wisconsin and the Twin Cities – the next step toward connecting Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison with the Twin Cities. The project is estimated to create thousands of jobs in Wisconsin in fields like construction, engineering, design and supply.

Governor Doyle was joined today for the job creation announcement by Antonio Perez, CEO and President of Talgo; Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; Javier Ruprez, Consul General of Spain; Alderman Willie Wade of the Milwaukee Common Council; and Tim Sheehy, a member of the Milwaukee 7. The Governor thanked the leaders from Talgo, Milwaukee and the Congressional delegation for working together to make the project a reality.

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 2, 2010 --- 7:30 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Spanish train company says it will open an assembly plant in Milwaukee.

Governor Jim Doyle and Talgo executives plan to formally announce the project Tuesday.

Talgo is expected to build on the former Tower Automotive plant site. The new plant could initially employ about 80 people.

Wisconsin has a $47 million deal with Talgo to build two 14-car trains for Amtrak's Milwaukee-to-Chicago line. It also has an option for two additional trains to serve a Milwaukee-to-Madison route.

Information from:
WISN-TV
http://www.wisn.com

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Monday, March 1, 2010 --- 4:40 p.m.

From the Business Journal of Milwaukee:

After several months of reviewing half a dozen possible Wisconsin manufacturing sites, Spanish train manufacturer Talgo Inc. is expected later this week to name the former Tower Automotive site on Milwaukee’s north side as the location for its train set assembly facility.

As we reported in the past, two sites in Janesville were being considered for this facility.

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UPDATE Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2010 -- 4:18pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: The state has officially decided to accept $823 million in federal stimulus funds for high speed rail.

The outcome was never really in doubt. Democrats control the Joint Finance Committee by a 12 to 4 margin, and that's what the final vote would be, but that didn't stop the four Republicans from saying why they think the high speed rail is a bad idea.

"The money that's going to be taken to subsidize this is going to come out of the fund to fix the potholes in Green Bay, DePere and Ashwaubenon," says Rep. Phil Montgomery (R-Ashwaubenon).

Wisconsin was awarded $823 million in federal stimulus funds in January. The money will pay for high speed passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Madison.

Joint Finance officially accepted the money Tuesday, meaning the state can start letting out construction bids, with work to begin this fall. "The business community has told us this is something that's important for economic development," says Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) Co-Chair of the JFC.

It will cost the state at least $7.5 million a year to subsidize the rail service, and many Republicans think that's too much. "We don't want to use the scarce transportation dollars that we have to fix potholes for a subsidized trains operating back and forth between Madison and Milwaukee," says Rep. Robin Vos (R-Racine).

"If it's good and if it's a good thing, let's let 'em ride," says Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). "But why would we pay for it with gas tax?"

Democrats argue all public transportation is subsidized. "There's a lot of people that pay their gas taxes and don't use the road to Green Bay or they don't use the road to Milwaukee," says Sen. Judy Robson (D-Beloit).

Democrats say it's a good thing construction will start this fall, because they fear if Republican Scott Walker becomes Governor, he'll try to stop the project. "The next governor is going to have to put this operating subsidy into future budgets," says Scott McDonell, Chairman of the Dane County Board. "If he's elected it could go away."

Including the $823 million for high speed rail, Wisconsin will have received $4.6 billion in American Recovery Act money, better known as stimulus funds.

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 16, 2010 --- 11:51 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Legislature's budget committee has approved using $810 million in federal stimulus money to build a high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee.

The Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday also voted to approve $12 million for improvements on the existing Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Republicans objected, saying the project won't create the thousands of jobs promised and the new line will cost taxpayers too much to operate.

The committee voted 12-4 along partisan lines to approve spending for the new line.

The new 85-mile line between Madison and Milwaukee is envisioned to have stops in Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown and begin operating in 2013. Backers say it will create thousands of jobs over the next five years.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Friday, February 12, 2010 --- 7:30 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's budget committee was scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to approve receiving $810 million in federal stimulus money to install high-speed rail between Madison and Milwaukee.

President Barack Obama's administration last month awarded the money to Wisconsin as part of $8 billion in rail projects nationwide.

The money would be used in Wisconsin to upgrade and refurbish train stations and install safety equipment on the Madison-to-Milwaukee leg of a line that stretches from Minneapolis to Chicago.

The Legislature's budget-writing Joint Finance Committee is set to vote on accepting the money Tuesday. The committee is controlled by Democrats, which makes approval of the money likely.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATE: Thursday, January 28, 2010 --- 8:44 p.m.
REPORTER: Chris Woodard

For Watertown the railroad means hopes for new jobs and a boost to local business.

But even in that city not everyone is on board.

In Watertown trains are just a part of life. Some will tell you the reason this city of 23-thousand was developed is because of the three tracks running through town.

But the traffic they've gotten used to is about to change.

Don Kasten lives along the tracks and says, "At that kind of speed you worry about it with kids in the neighborhood and pets and stuff."

High speed rail is now a reality. In three years the Mayor Ron Krueger says at least 6 trains a day will be speeding through this city and through Don Kasten's back yard.

Kasten says, "To me it seems like a waste of money."

But the money is exactly what some are looking forward to.

Unlike a lot of other cities on this route the trains wouldn't just be zipping through Watertown. The creation of a depot or train station in the city has them hoping people and money will stay in town.

Krueger says, "Economic development, jobs, tourism, this is a natural fit for us."

Krueger says the new train depot will be built on the site of Pick n' Save when the grocer moves.

He's also confident the new line will attract the type of jobs and business that normally locate along rail lines. He uses Internet tech corporations as an example.

He says, "Something that's going to be an economic engine for the surrounding counties and the surrounding area."

For those right next door, the main concern is an obvious one.

Nicole Boettcher has a four year old daughter and says, "Hopefully safety wise it'd be better. The tracks do need to be redone anyway."

A relationship that's worked well for 150 years is about to get an upgrade, opening the gates to opportunity and concern.

Krueger says the stimulus money will be paying for safety upgrades at each of the railroad crossings as well.

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UPDATE Posted Thursday, January 28, 2010 -- 5:40pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: President Obama announced Thursday Wisconsin will receive $823 million for a high speed passenger rail system.

Most of the money will be used to upgrade the existing rail lines between Milwaukee and Madison.

By 2013, Amtrak will be running at an average speed of 79 miles an hour, with stops in Brookfield, Oconomowoc, Watertown and the Dane County Regional Airport.

Madison to Milwaukee should take just more than an hour, with another hour to continue on to downtown Chicago.

One million dollars will also be used to explore a future high speed route connecting Madison to the Minneapolis-St. Paul.

High speed rail is not the same as the proposed commuter rail in Dane County, but they could be connected.

In 2013, the first high speed train will roll up to a station at the Dane County Regional Airport, and it will be the end of the line. But local officials hope that will eventually change. "We will make that connection between the station and downtown initially with buses and then perhaps with rail," says Madison Mayor Dave Ciesliewcz.

Cieslewicz and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk have been working towards commuter rail for years, and Falk says high speed rail helps their case. "It makes it so much more likely and just so obvious."

Commuter rail would run from Sun Prairie through the downtown to Middleton. Now an airport stop is more likely. "We have options of whether it goes straight to the airport or goes more towards East Towne," says Falk. "All of those details now will be worked out."

Keith Plasterer is a member of the Wisconsin Association of Railroad Passengers. "The Amtrak train coming in from Sun Prairie to downtown Madison or the airport will use the same tracks. There are probably at least one or two stations they'll use together too. They'll have to work together."

One major difference between high speed and commuter rail is funding. High speed rail is now 100% funded, with the state only needing to worry about future operating costs.

The recently created Dane County Regional Transit Authority has the authority to levy a 1/2% sales tax, but that is only $40 million a year and needs to be shared with the bus system. So they'll likely need federal money to get up and running.

Even so, supporters expect one day you can ride a train all the way from downtown Chicago to downtown Madison.

Two train sets will come from Spanish train manufacturer Talgo. Last July, Governor Doyle signed an agreement with the company to put the trains into service in Wisconsin and to establish new assembly and maintenance facilities in the state. The rail car assembly plant will support the delivery of Talgo trains throughout the country.

The governor says he expects Talgo to announce where the plant will go in the next few weeks. Janesville is still in the running as a possible location.

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UPDATED Thursday, January 28, 2010 --- 1:35 p.m.

Release from the Governor's Office:

Governor Doyle Announces $823 Million for Passenger Rail in Wisconsin, Will Create Thousands of Jobs

Recovery Act Will Build Milwaukee-Madison Route and Upgrade Milwaukee-Chicago Line

MILWAUKEE – Governor Jim Doyle and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced Wisconsin is receiving $823 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to build high-speed passenger rail service, creating thousands of jobs.

“Through high-speed rail, President Obama is making a major investment in the future of Wisconsin’s economy,” Governor Doyle said. “This is a major project that will create thousands of jobs in Wisconsin and invest in our long-term growth, connecting the major centers of commerce in Wisconsin and the Midwest. With the Obama Administration’s support, Wisconsin is poised to be the nation’s leader in high speed rail manufacturing. This was a national competition and the results clearly demonstrate that we put forth a very strong application.”

Wisconsin is receiving $810 million to build high-speed passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Madison, including construction of track, passenger stations, signaling and other infrastructure improvements. Wisconsin is also receiving $12 million to install crossovers between Chicago and Milwaukee to improve service on this highly-popular route. The project is estimated to create thousands of jobs in Wisconsin in fields like construction, engineering, design and supply firms.

In addition to Wisconsin’s funding, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has received $1 million to make final determinations on a route between Wisconsin and the Twin Cities. The study is the next step toward connecting Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison with the Twin Cities.

Construction of the Milwaukee-Madison line is scheduled to begin by the end of 2010, and should be completed by January 2013. Wisconsin will also purchase two additional state-of-the-art train sets – for four total new sets – that will be assembled and maintained in Wisconsin. In addition, the state will invest in eight new energy-efficient locomotives that will be built in the United States – hopefully in Wisconsin.

In July, Governor Doyle signed an agreement with the Spanish train manufacturer Talgo to put two Talgo train sets into service in Wisconsin and to establish new assembly and maintenance facilities in the state. The rail car assembly plant will support the delivery of Talgo trains throughout the country.

Over the next 10 years, high-speed passenger rail in Wisconsin will eliminate 7.8 million car trips, save 27.6 million gallons of fuel, eliminate nearly 270,000 tons of carbon emissions, and create more livable communities with less congestion.

Governor Doyle and Secretary Donovan were joined by Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for the announcement at the Intermodal Station in Milwaukee. The Governor thanked them for their support, and recognized Congressman Dave Obey and Senator Herb Kohl for their efforts to help Wisconsin win 100 percent of its passenger rail funding request.

For more information on the project please visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rail_twin-cities-chicago.PDF

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UPDATED Thursday, January 28, 2010 --- 1:04 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House is doling out $8 billion in grants for high-speed rail projects, an initiative touted as a jobs creator.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced the grants at a town hall-style meeting in Tampa, Fla., Thursday -- a follow-up appearance to the president's State of the Union address. The administration says the rail projects will save or create tens of thousands of jobs.

Thirteen rail corridors in 31 states will receive funds. Projects in California, Florida and Illinois are among the big winners.

Though the White House billed the program as "high-speed rail," most of the trains won't reach the speeds seen in Europe and Asia.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, January 28, 2010 --- 10:00 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Wisconsin will receive $822 million in federal stimulus funds, most of which will be used to improve high-speed rail service between Madison and Milwaukee.

The White House announced Thursday it was giving out $8 billion in grants for rail projects nationwide.

In Wisconsin, $810 million would be used to upgrade and refurbish train stations and install safety equipment on the Madison-to-Milwaukee leg of a line that stretches from Minneapolis to Chicago.

Another $12 million will be used to make improvements in the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor to reduce travel times and improve on-time performance.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Thursday, January 28, 2010 --- 7:20 a.m.

Press Release from U.S. Senators Herb Kohl & Russ Feingold:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold today announced that Wisconsin’s high-speed rail projects will receive $822 million in federal stimulus funds. Of that total, $810 million will be directed to the Madison-Milwaukee corridor and $12 million to the Milwaukee-Chicago corridor. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) included $8 billion for high-speed rail projects. This $8 billion was designated for capital projects, and included three types of competitive discretionary rail grant programs – one of which was for high-speed rail corridor development grants.

“It’s great to see Wisconsin getting its fair share of these federal funds. The Secretary’s decision speaks to the quality of our state’s high-speed rail corridor project. I’m especially pleased by the promise it holds to create jobs and provide transportation choices for travelers across our state,” Kohl said.

“This funding is good news for Wisconsin workers. Not only will this funding help create jobs improving our state’s infrastructure, it will open up more job opportunities for workers in southern Wisconsin. This is an important investment in Wisconsin’s economy and workforce,” Feingold said.

According to the Department of Transportation, the $810 million in funds allocated to the Madison-Milwaukee project will be used for construction of track, passenger stations, signaling and other infrastructure improvements to extend the existing Amtrak Hiawatha service between Chicago and Milwaukee to Madison. The project will result in increased ridership and improved on-time performance. The $12 million in funds directed to the Milwaukee-Chicago project will be used for the installation of crossovers between Chicago and Milwaukee to improve on-time performance for the Amtrak Hiawatha and Empire Builder services, and for construction to extend the platform at the Milwaukee Airport Station, which will reduce travel times on the Amtrak Hiawatha and Empire Builder services by allowing trains longer than the current platform to board and deboard faster.

Wisconsin applied for funding under the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program. According to the State’s application, this would create thousands of jobs in the state, along with clearing congestion on highways and airports and providing an environmentally friendly transportation alternative.

Last November, Feingold and Kohl sent a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in support of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s application to the Federal Railroad Administration for funding under the ARRA rail program. In April, 2009, Kohl and Feingold and a group of 11 other Midwestern Senators signed a letter to President Obama asking that Midwestern rail corridors be considered for ARRA rail funding.

Kohl called Secretary LaHood on January 21st when officials at the Department of Transportation indicated that decisions were being made about how to allocate the funding, which must be obligated by February 17th. Feingold spoke with Secretary LaHood in December 2009 to highlight how Wisconsin has been a leader on passenger rail issues under Governor Doyle and WisDOT Secretary Busalacchi and voice support for funding for Wisconsin’s proposal.

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UPDATED Friday, November 6, 2009 --- 8:00 a.m.

The Dane County Board has voted "Yes" to creating a Regional Transit Authority.

Our news partner WIBA-Radio reports just before 2:00 a.m. this morning the board voted 20 to 16 in favor of the regional body. It will have the power to raise a sales tax to fund bus and rail transportation options.

The next step in this process is to pick the members of the board. According to madison.com, Madison and Dane County have two appointees each and the governor, Fitchburg, Middleton, Sun Prairie and the Dane County Cities and Villages Association each have one.

Those who spoke in favor of the RTA last night said they want a single body in charge of transportation for Dane County. Those who were against it say they're afraid of the power the RTA might have, and what they might do with it.

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Updated Thursday, November 5, 2009 --- 1:14 p.m.

Information from our news partner WIBA:

The Dane County Board tonight is scheduled to debate creation of a Regional Transit Authority, which would have the power to levy a local half-cent sales tax.

Supervisor Eileen Bruskewitz says she's been hearing from people, "They don't want it. And they very specifically say they don't want it for trains, or any other purpose right now. People are feeling taxed enough, and they don't want to see any additional taxes."

Supporters of the RTA say they would abide by results of an advisory referendum before a tax increase would be approved. A vote on that will also take place tonight. Bruskewitz wants it on the April 6th ballot.

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UPDATED Friday, October 2, 2009 --- 3:40 p.m.

Press Release from the Governor's Office:

MADISON - Governor Jim Doyle announced today the state submitted an application to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for federal funds to develop a $651.8 million high-speed passenger rail line between Milwaukee and Madison.

“I have been working hard work with federal partners to move Wisconsin into a new era of passenger rail service and this application is a big step towards that goal,” Governor Doyle said. “I have long believed that passenger rail is the missing link in our national transportation policy, and bringing passenger rail service to this area will create high-skilled jobs, spur economic growth, and make travel safe and comfortable.”

The state application is for a discretionary rail grant under the Track 2 Corridor Programs of the FRA’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program. A total of $8 billion in federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are available for distribution.

The Milwaukee to Madison high-speed passenger rail service would:

Create nearly 13,000 jobs in the state by 2013
Reduce automobile trips by 7.8 million over 10 years
Save an estimated 27.6 million gallons of fuel over 10 years
Provide environmental benefits including the reduction of 269,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over 10 years
Promote livable communities providing a healthier, more sustainable way of life
Enhance connectivity with other modes, including public transit
Mitigate congestion and help meet the growing travel demands between the state’s two largest metropolitan areas
Improve regional mobility and freight service

Wisconsin’s application calls for track, signal and infrastructure improvements, the acquisition of two train sets and eight, energy-efficient “next generation” locomotives, a new maintenance facility and positive train controls for the corridor.

The service would operate as an extension of Amtrak’s existing Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Service, with six round trips between Milwaukee and Madison including intermediate stops in Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown.

An environmental assessment of the corridor has already been completed with sign-off from FRA in 2004.

Wisconsin is committed to implementing an improved and expanded passenger rail system throughout the Midwest. Wisconsin has been working cooperatively with the states of Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri in partnership with the FRA and Amtrak, on the development of a Midwest Regional Rail System since 1995.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 25, 2009 --- 1:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A state senator says he wants to change a law that allowed Gov. Jim Doyle's administration to enter into a $47 million, no-bid contract with a Spanish company for passenger trains.

Sen. Rob Cowles, a Republican from Green Bay, said he will introduce a bill to repeal a 1997 state law that exempts passenger rail contracts from competitive bidding requirements.

Doyle's administration used that law to buy two passenger trains from the Spanish firm Talgo without seeking other bids. Since then, other companies have said they would have liked a chance to bid on the contract.

The administration has defended the deal, saying Talgo was the only company out of seven contacted to respond to a state request for information.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Tuesday, August 4, 2009 --- 2:45 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin lawmakers have approved a $47 million no-bid contract to buy passenger trains from a Spanish company under a plan to jump-start high-speed rail service in the state.

The Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday voted 11-4 to approve the agreement with Patentes Talgo even as lawmakers expressed concern about the process used to pick the firm.

Gov. Jim Doyle's administration picked Talgo under a law that allows passenger rail equipment to be purchased without competitive bidding.

Doyle traveled to Spain to visit Talgo executives in February and announced the agreement last month.

The committee's vote allows the administration to execute the contract, which could bring jobs to Wisconsin and improve the state's chances of winning federal stimulus money for rail expansion.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Wednesday, July 29, 2009 --- 3:25 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Milwaukee legislators want a Spanish train manufacturer to build cars in their city.

Gov. Jim Doyle announced a $47 million deal with Talgo earlier this month that calls for the train builder to replace aging passenger cars on Amtrak's Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line. The agreement calls for Talgo to establish a manufacturing facility in southeastern Wisconsin.

Talgo officials haven't chosen a site yet. Milwaukee's legislative contingent sent a letter to Antonio Perez, the company's president and CEO, urging him to pick the Super Steel Products Corp. in Milwaukee.

They say the city's proximity to Lake Michigan would make shipping parts to the plant relatively easy. Plus, they say, the city represents the state's largest labor market.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Monday, July 27, 2009 --- 12:25 p.m.

CHICAGO (AP) -- The governors of eight Midwest states have agreed to set up a steering committee to help with their bid for federal cash to pay for a regional high-speed rail network.

The eight states have worked together for months to promote such a system with Chicago as its hub.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and governors from four other states met in Chicago on Monday to sign a memorandum establishing the Midwest Rail Steering Group. That group will coordinate the states' application for a share of the $8 billion in federal stimulus cash for such projects.

Competition for the money is stiff. Officials say 40 states have submitted 278 plans totaling $102 billion for federal rail funding.

In addition to Quinn, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland also attended the meeting in Chicago.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Monday, July 27, 2009 --- 10:30 a.m.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Several Midwest governors are meeting in Chicago to talk high-speed trains.

Eight Midwest states have cooperated closely for months to promote a regional high-speed rail network with Chicago as its hub.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and other governors attending what's billed as a Midwest High Speed Rail Summit are expected to lobby again Monday for a cut of $8 billion in federal stimulus cash for such projects.

Competition for the money is stiff. Officials say 40 states have submitted 278 plans totaling $102 billion for federal rail funding.

Quinn's office says the governors expected to attend the summit include Wisconsin's Jim Doyle, Iowa's Chet Culver, Michigan's Jennifer Granholm and Ohio's Ted Strickland. Rail executives also planned to participate.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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POSTED: Friday, July 17, 2009 --- 4:15 p.m.

Wisconsin has partnered with a company in Spain to bring new jobs to our area. And it brings the possibility of so much more for one south-central Wisconsin city that has fallen on hard times.

"As they said at the end of Casa Blanca," began Governor Doyle at Friday's press conference, "today is the day where we are going to mark the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

The news that Wisconsin has partnered with a Spanish company called Talgo, to buy two high-speed rail trains for $47 million has one city in our area again hoping for the best.

Under the agreement the state will buy the trains for the Amtrak Hiawatha Line, which runs from Milwaukee to Chicago. The new trains will seat 70 more people and be far more luxurious than the current ones.

"I have long believed that passenger rail is the missing link in our national transportation policy," added the Governor.

The two trains will be built in Spain and shipped to Wisconsin for assembly. And Talgo is looking at Janesville as a possible site for that assembly plant.

"We are thrilled that we are in the mix," said Forward Janesville President John Beckord.

Janesville has been on an emotional roller coaster since the GM plant closed late last year, with word that it could possibly re-open only to later find out it won't. And this is a similar situation.

"We have visited Janesville," said Talgo Inc.'s Antonio Perez. "We are doing the economic studies as to where we can find skilled people, where we can find capacity and as Gov. Doyle said where we can expand."

In two years, the new plant will create 80 assembly and maintenance jobs with the possibility for more.

"This community would not only welcome them, but it is very anxious for this type of news. It would be an exciting announcement for Janesville," concluded Beckord.

Talgo looked at two locations in Janesville for the new plant and one in Milwaukee. They plan to make a decision in six-to-nine months.

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UPDATED Friday, July 17, 2009 --- 11:10 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin has agreed to a $47 million deal with Spanish train manufacturer Talgo for two 14-car passenger trains.

The cars would replace the passenger cars that currently run between Milwaukee and Chicago.

They would be built with parts manufactured in Spain and assembled at plants in Wisconsin. Gov. Jim Doyle says that could create as many as 80 jobs in the state.

Each train will have a capacity of 420 passengers, a 20 percent increase over the current cars.

The agreement includes an option to buy two more trains if the state gets federal stimulus money for extending rail service from Milwaukee to Madison.

Doyle announced the deal Friday morning. He says the agreement marks the beginning of high-speed rail in Wisconsin.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Friday, July 17, 2009 --- 11:00 a.m.

County Executive Falk Statement:
Governor Doyle Rail Announcement

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk issued the following statement regarding Governor Doyle’s announcement that Talgo, Inc., a Spanish rail company, is moving to southern Wisconsin to manufacture high speed rail and develop a maintenance facility here:

“Governor Doyle’s leadership means new jobs and top-notch rail technology for Dane County and southern Wisconsin. His successful pitch to bring Talgo, Inc. to our area is a real boost to our economy and a real opportunity for a state of the art transportation system that will spur job creation and economic development across southern Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest.”

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UPDATED Friday, July 17, 2009 --- 10:40 a.m.

Press Release from the Governor's Office:

MADISON - Governor Jim Doyle today announced an agreement with the Spanish train manufacturer Talgo to put two Talgo train sets into service in Wisconsin and to establish new assembly and maintenance facilities in the state. The rail car assembly plant will support the delivery of Talgo trains throughout the country.

“We are pleased to welcome Talgo to Wisconsin,” Governor Doyle said. “I can’t wait for our Midwestern travelers to experience first-hand the comfort, modern amenities and expanded seating capacity on these wonderful trains. In addition, the company will use Wisconsin workers and skills to assemble and maintain Talgo trains. This relationship has the potential to create even more jobs, gives the state a major role in the growth of an exciting transportation industry and helps us move forward with our vision for high speed passenger rail service in the Midwest.”

Talgo officials joining Governor Doyle to make the announcement in Madison included Antonio Perez, CEO and president of Talgo Inc., the company’s U.S. subsidiary, and Jose Maria Oriol, CEO and president of Patentes Talgo, Spain.

"After 14 years of track record in the US market and having participated in the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative in 2000, Talgo is very excited to have its equipment selected again as the most suitable for the Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago Corridor,” Antonio Perez said. “We are very excited with the opportunity of manufacturing high speed trains in Wisconsin and helping to bring economic development and the option for proven intercity passenger rail equipment to the Midwest region. We appreciate the leadership from Governor Doyle in this very important step towards accomplishing the new Administration's Vision."

Wisconsin will purchase two, 14-car train sets for $47 million. The agreement provides an option to buy two additional train sets if the state is successful in securing federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for the extension of passenger rail service from Milwaukee to Madison.

Talgo cars are made of aluminum alloy with welded seams to form a structural frame making them lighter weight and stronger than traditional rail cars. The rail cars use passive tilt technology that allows the cars to navigate curves at higher speeds with less car tilting and to ride smoother at higher speed, greatly enhancing passenger comfort.

The trains will be put into service on the Amtrak Hiawatha Service with the cars pulled by existing locomotives. Each train set provides a seating capacity of 420 compared to the current capacity of 350. The popular Amtrak Hiawatha Service provides daily trips between Chicago, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ridership on the Hiawatha Service continues to grow, with more than 766,000 riders in 2008, a 24% increase over 2007.

“I’m delighted the State of Wisconsin has taken the bold step to purchase modern, new passenger rail equipment,” said Amtrak Chairman of the Board Thomas Carper. “Amtrak has had a great response to Talgo train equipment on its Cascades Service in the Pacific Northwest, and we are confident travelers on the Hiawatha Service will have the same reaction. Wisconsin has always been one of Amtrak’s strongest state partners, and we congratulate Governor Doyle on this important and exciting initiative that will bring new levels of comfort and convenience to intercity travelers.”

The locations of the assembly and maintenance facilities have not yet been determined, but are likely to be in south central or southeastern Wisconsin. Together, the assembly and maintenance facilities are expected to create about 80 jobs for Wisconsin workers, with the potential for more jobs as operations grow.

Aluminum alloy structural frame parts for the Talgo trains will be manufactured in Spain and then shipped to Wisconsin for assembly. Talgo will be working with Wisconsin and other U.S. vendors to supply parts for outfitting the trains.

The dedicated rail car maintenance facility will provide ongoing service for equipment used in the Midwest. Talgo currently operates a maintenance facility in Seattle, Washington, to service Amtrak Cascades trains.

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UPDATED Friday, July 17, 2009 --- 8:15 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Jim Doyle plans to make an announcement about a passenger rail line between Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago.

Doyle has scheduled a news conference for Friday morning at the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison.

He says the announcement will generate local jobs and affect the future of a rail line between the three cities.

Doyle hopes to use federal stimulus money to construct high-speed passenger rail in Wisconsin.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Friday, May 1, 2009 --- 7:10 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Legislature's budget committee approved a plan early today to use a mixture of higher sales taxes and car rental fees to pay for high-speed rail and other transit projects.

Up to $16 could be charged on car rentals in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties to pay for a commuter rail line connecting the three southeastern Wisconsin cities.

A newly-created board could also levy $50 million in bonds to help pay for the rail line, which has been discussed for years but always stalled over how it would be paid for.

Also, Milwaukee County would be allowed to impose a 1 percent sales tax to pay for a countywide regional transit authority. The $132 million raised each year would pay for transit, parks, cultural and emergency medical services. Fifteen percent would go to the city of Milwaukee.

In Dane County, a half-cent sales tax could be imposed to pay for commuter rail and other transit projects.

The committee voted against Governor Doyle's proposal to create a regional transit authority in the Fox Cities to help pay for the existing regional bus system using up to half a cent sales tax.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted Thursday, February 19th, 2009 --5:15pm
By Zac Schultz

Madison: The prospects of commuter rail in Dane County took a major step forward Tuesday night when Governor Doyle introduced his budget. "This budget allows Wisconsin communities to form Regional Transit Authorities, which will be important tools in driving economic development and adding jobs."

The Dane County RTA would be able to levy a half-percent sales tax on the Madison Metropolitan Planning Area, which consists of the metro area plus most of the suburbs.

The increased sales tax would bring in around $40 million a year...
which would be used to pay for mass transit, including a commuter rail line between Sun Prairie and Middleton.

But even more important, Dane County needs an RTA to get federal funding to pay the $250 million needed to build the rail line. "It was a huge boost for Dane County and our chances of getting federal money for commuter rail and all of our transit plans," says County Board Chairman Scott McDonell.

"My concern is that in the Governor's budget the RTA conversation does not include a binding referendum," says Nancy Mistele. who is running against County Executive Kathleen Falk, and has made commuter rail a key element of the race.

Falk is the main supporter of rail, and Mistele is dead-set against it. "I am their last, best hope to avoid that half-cent sales tax."

Mistele says if commuter rail goes to referendum, it will lose. "I don't think you should be expecting people in Mazomanie, or Waunakee or DeForest or Verona to be supporting a 12 mile route that isn't going to be anywhere close to support their needs."

Kathleen Falk was not available for comment today, but her Chief of Staff says she will hold a referendum.

McDonell says it may take until 2010 to get federal approval and schedule a referendum. but he thinks it will pass. "This initiative is popular. There is a very, very vocal minority who seems to have convinced themselves that everyone agrees with them."

The Governor's proposal and the RTA proposed by the county in 2007 differ in one important way: Under the county's proposal 25% of the money raised from the sales tax would go to road repairs. Under Doyle's proposal the money could only go towards mass transit like bus and rail service.


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