Monday, July 15, 2013

The Media’s short Memory Conveniently Absolves Scott Walker’s Partisan High Speed Rail Failure.

Am I the only one who notices this stuff? Where’s Democratic State Representative Fred Clark’s reminder to voters how Gov. Doyle’s high speed rail deal got federal money to upgrade the track between Madison and Reedsburg? Here’s the story from Wispolitics (subscription) from way back in April, 2011:
Wispolitics: Transportation advocates, workers and state leaders released a report today entitled “The Economic Impacts of High Speed Rail: Transforming the Midwest” showing that expanding passenger train service in Wisconsin and the Midwest can create 103,000 jobs and $13.8 billion of economic activity in the region. “The communities I represent rely on a freight rail network that provides an essential connection for rural manufacturers that support thousands of jobs,” said Rep. Fred Clark (D-Baraboo). “Communities like Wisconsin Dells and Portage would benefit directly and immediately from an enhancement of our passenger rail system.  
Hello, Fred, are you awake. Now it looks like state taxpayers are going to foot the bill directly instead.
WISC: Gov. Scott Walker made a stop at Seneca Foods Corp. in Baraboo on Friday to talk about freight rail preservation. On previous visits to Seneca, the governor discussed state efforts to purchase a 70-mile rail line running from Madison to Reedsburg … the state budget … is set to become reality.

Aaron Girard, senior vice president of logistics for Seneca, said the endeavor “is absolutely critical for industrial companies like ours to help us remain viable and competitive not just in Wisconsin but throughout the country.” State Rep. Ed Brooks, R-Reedsburg, said “We finally got it in the budget,” he said of the more than $50 million set aside for the task. He said investments in infrastructure are important. “Those are the things that drive the economy,” he said.
Fred, you still there? I don’t have the link, and much of this is archived for subscriptions only, but here’s the copy of a story that lays it out:
The state is considering spending about $30 million to buy a freight rail line connecting Reedsburg and Madison. The DOT negotiated with Union Pacific Railroad in November (2010) to purchase track in Madison needed for a proposed passenger rail line to Milwaukee … estimated the purchase price to be more than $30 million. 

Union Pacific wanted to sell all its remaining track in the Madison area as part of the deal … The deal fell apart after Gov. Scott Walker signaled his intention to stop the rail project, and the $810 million in federal money went to passenger rail projects in other states. 

Now the DOT is considering purchasing the same track with state money.

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