Studies of West Central Wisconsin’s potential inclusion as part of a Chicago-Twin Cities High Speed Rail line will go forward, thanks to Federal Stimulus grants of over $800 million announced today for Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The lion’s share of the money will go to actual construction of the long-awaited Milwaukee-Madison extension of the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor. About $1 million of the award makes it possible for the two states to move forward with planning and environmental studies of potential routes between Madison and St. Paul. According to a fact sheet released by the White House, “Several route alignments will be considered in the planning process.” Those are expected to include the West Central Wisconsin route via Black River Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie and Hudson, the so-called “River Route” via La Crosse and Red Wing, and a “greenfield” route via La Crosse and Rochester which would require construction of new track alignments.
The West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition applauds this action. We believe our area will fare well in these studies based upon population and growth, travel demand, a high population of university students, and the availability of an under-utilized, high-capacity right of way.