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Wisconsin mayors, including Madison’s, on board with Amtrak proposal

Amtrak proposes new and improved routes if the Biden Administration's infrastructure plan passes.
Amtrak proposes new and improved routes if the Biden Administration's infrastructure plan passes.(Amtrak)
Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 3:39 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, along with other Midwestern mayors, backed the creation of an expanded passenger rail program of Amtrak that would pass right through Wisconsin.

“We recognize the vast potential for passenger rail to bring opportunity to our greater region and to connect our cities with communities nationwide in a more sustainable manner,” the mayors of Madison, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Paul wrote Thursday.

In their letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Acting Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration Amit Bose, the mayors specifically push for the extension of Amtrak’s Hiawatha line that has roundtrips daily between Chicago and Milwaukee.

They argue that by expanding the passenger rail service in the Midwest, it would improve regional connections between major urban centers and provide travel subject to less delays from weather or traffic.

The mayors also note that smaller cities in the region that are not served by a commercial air service could be connected to the route, thus benefiting more communities.

“As mayors, we believe that now is the time for transformative investments in our nation’s infrastructure that will benefit our residents for generations to come,” the mayors continue. “Modernizing and enhancing passenger rail must play a key role in our national transportation system in the twenty-first century and beyond. We urge the Administration to help our region finally realize this overdue vision for a connected future.”

Amtrak first described on April 1 what it would do if the proposed $2 trillion Biden administration infrastructure package passed, which would include a brand new route that would extend from Duluth, Minnesota to Milwaukee.

Eastbound travelers could then drop down from Milwaukee to Chicago, which serves as one of Amtrak’s most important hubs. Riders heading west would have the option of direct routes to Eau Claire or Minneapolis. From Minneapolis, they can go to Duluth - or grab a line that stretches as far west as Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon.

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