Unlike all the other states in the Midwest, Wisconsin is now more painfully backward than any of us ever imagined.
GOP legislators halt Minnesota-Wisconsin high-speed rail study...Critics say exploring route from Twin Cities to Milwaukee is pointless.
In December Republicans Rep. Paul Torkelson and Sen. Scott Newman objected to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) accepting federal grant money to complete the study — largely because Wisconsin opposes high-speed rail ... work on the study has stopped after just over $1 million in state and federal money had already been spent on it.
Since 2010, high-speed rail has been a hot-button political issue in Wisconsin. GOP Gov. Scott Walker declined $810 million in federal stimulus money for a Madison-to-Milwaukee line, saying it would be too expensive to build and maintain. Walker’s opposition to the service remains unchanged, according to Torkelson. “It would be rather inappropriate for us to spend federal funds when there’s no chance of it going forward,” he said. (Walker’s office did not return phone calls.)
Generally speaking, high-speed trains are capable of sustained speeds of 150 mph or more — which is the case in Europe and Asia. Some trains in China, which has bet big on the high-speed rail, whisk along at 220 mph.
The United States has no true high-speed rail service. A report by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association attributes this to a lack of funding, the difficulty of getting state, local and municipal governments to agree on a plan, and outdated safety regulations and infrastructure. The majority of Amtrak trains share track with freight. And there’s Americans’ storied love of their automobiles.
Stopping the Minnesota high-speed project is shortsighted because it prevents what he called “a basic assessment” to understand what’s needed.