Madison Amtrak project chugs along, city seeks public input

City officials say that an Amtrak route can connect Madison to larger cities, like Milwaukee and Chicago.
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 6:27 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 28, 2022 at 6:48 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - In a goal to bring Amtrak to Madison, a city official says “momentum” is building.

Six sites around the city have a shot at becoming Madison’s pick for a potential new train station. As shown in the city map below, the areas are referred to as [UW-Madison] Campus, Downtown, First Street, Near East Side, Oscar Mayer and [Dane Co. Regional] Airport.

“This is a way for us to to demonstrate to the federal government that we are serious about wanting to bring rail here ourselves,” Philip Gritzmacher, Jr., a city transportation planner, said.

Potential Station Locations
Potential Station Locations(City of Madison)

This step, known as a passenger rail station study, comes after recommendations from Amtrak to extend a route and connect Madison with cities like Chicago and Milwaukee.

“Both Amtrak and the Federal [Railroad] Administration have identified Madison as a place that’s important for passenger rail,” Gritzmacher said.

The study kicks off Dec. 7 with a public meeting. According to a city website, the meeting will include a presentation explaining the project. City staff and Amtrak officials will be present.

Federal officials have yet to say whether Madison will secure an Amtrak station.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation would give the final say on the funding for the track improvements and the different things that we need to actually get the rail to come here,” Gritzmacher said.

But the federal dollars are out there. City staff point out the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law increased passenger rail funding over 500 percent.

“This type of funding increase rarely occurs, so it is important for us to work with Amtrak and capitalize on the funding opportunities,” Tom Lynch, city transportation director, wrote to NBC15.

Gritzmacher hopes to have a potential new train station identified by May 2023. He did not share any details on a timeline for steps after that.

Regional map of proposed Amtrak routes
Regional map of proposed Amtrak routes(Recommended Amtrak Routes – Amtrak’s Connects US Plan)

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has included $350,000 for the Amtrak project in next year’s capital budget.

According to Lynch, once a station site is chosen, the funds will be used to create concept drawings and identify any necessary improvements.

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)

The Dec. 7 meeting can be attended in person. It starts at 4:30 p.m. in Madison Municipal Building, located at 215 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.

A virtual option will be available, as well, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Community members are asked to register by visiting this site.

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