I am happy to say I was wrong yesterday
and that Madison shall soon see its first regular passenger rail service since 30 April 1971
. Our fair state is getting an $823 million chunk
of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for high-speed rail.Wisconsin will receive $810 million in federal stimulus money to establish high-speed passenger rail from Milwaukee to Madison and to study the possibility of extending it to the Twin Cities, President Barack Obama's administration will announce Thursday.
The 80-mile Madison to Milwaukee line will receive $810 million for new and renovated stations and track improvements to extend Amtrak's existing Hiawatha service from Chicago to the state capital, according to advance details from the White House. The state's existing Milwaukee to Chicago line will receive $12 million to do track and signal improvements to improve timeliness and prepare for eventual 110 mph service. In October, state officials estimated the project would cost $651.8 million, and said the remainder of the money would be used as a reserve if the project goes over budget.
Another $1 million is being awarded to study a possible high-speed rail line between Madison and Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Mayor Dave blogged
about the announcement saying, "We'll now get down to work on finalizing our station locations. We'll go for something on the Near East Side and perhaps another station at the Dane County Airport." This would appear to mean that he favors Yahara Station
as our first/primary station as opposed to simply having a solitary one at the airport, which is great news.
Whoever is our mayor next term should give high priority to using a near east side rail stop to spur redevelopment of the East Washington corridor. In the near term, once a station location has been chosen, Madison Metro should begin investigating possible route changes to make getting to and from the station as convenient as humanly possible.
Lastly, can we please have a train station that doesn't look like a prefab from a Sears catalogue? Let's build something interesting instead of a plain box. Perhaps something akin to the architecture of the Capitol. And don't forget to put a cheese shop and brewpub in there as well.