Saturday, October 11, 2008

High-Speed Rail Connecting Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison Passes One Hurdle, But...

Federal funding may be soon available to upgrade the roadbed between Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison as an element of Midwestern High Speed Rail.

But the last time these upgrades between Milwaukee and Madison were discussed, objections in, where else - - Waukesha County - - began to surface.

A few daily trains apparently posed noise and safety obstacles that to some glass-half-empty people were insurmountable.

The roadbeds and track are there in the corridor, as is the need.

All that, plus crossing-gate technology and valuable funding could finally come together, but look out for the anti-train crowd in Waukesha County.

Theirs is a one-note tone - - "NO!"

And don't overlook the agenda that is hidden in plain sight beneath concerns about noise, even safety: An Amtrak train that stopped in Waukesha might someday be connected to a commuter train, or, gasp ... a light rail line.

Oh, the humanity.


Forward Our Motto said...

Good far as Waukesha county goes, can't the train just not stop there?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the underlying racism. All those "Milwaukee People" with easy access to our white bread city. Yikes!

James Rowen said...

To Forward Our Motto;

Sure, but it would have to travel through Waukesha County, and true to form, some exceptionalists there don't want even that.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you bunch of naysayers.

Let the rail line come to Waukesha. I'll gladly take the train to Chicago once every couple years for a conference.

And, the train to Madison is most certainly a viable alternative for trips to the Henry Vilas Zoo, Warner Park (Mallards), floral gardens, and so on. I'm sure the rail-friendly city of Madison will be more than willing to open up abandoned lines and create new rail corridors.

James Rowen said...

It may defeat the purposes of high-speed rail to have intermediate stops between cities, such as a Waukesha stop between Madison and Milwaukee.

If that can be worked out, great.

A better alternative might be a commuter or light rail connection from Waukesha to the Intermodal station in Milwaukee.

Anonymous said...

James Rowen said:
It may defeat the purposes of high-speed rail to have intermediate stops between cities, such as a Waukesha stop between Madison and Milwaukee.
If that can be worked out, great.
A better alternative might be a commuter or light rail connection from Waukesha to the Intermodal station in Milwaukee.

So, in traveling from Waukesha to Madison you'd want me to drive, walk, bike, or take the bus to a light rail station, travel by light rail from Waukesha to Milwaukee, and then traverse back through Waukesha on a high speed line to Madison?

And you wonder why people from Waukesha, Jefferson, or adjacent counties to the north and south would find this troublesome?

Finally, what are the advantages over the existing Badger Bus Lines running from Goerkes Corners? Would this create more ridership, or merely rob Peter (bus passengers) to pay Paul (rail passengers)?

James Rowen said...

To the last anonymous naysayer: Read more carefully. I said "might."

And a connection to the Intermodal station would get users to the city, to the KRM if it is built, to the airport, etc.

It's about trying to construct a modern transportation network.

Take a deep breath.

Anonymous said...

Back on the rail kick again....

Perhaps the basis for opposition to passenger rail in Waukesha is fiscal responsibility.

As I stated in a previous reply, if we can't justify spending our own money on a project, then it is simply a waste of other people's money.

I'll contend that federal money is entirely our money anyway, despite the rhetoric to the contrary.

My federal tax money is pooled and dispersed. Some of that money comes back to Wisconsin. Some goes to Maine. Some goes to Florida. Some goes to California. Some goes to Idaho. Similarly, some Floridian is paying taxes that get equally dispersed. Some of my tax money goes his area, and some of his to mine. Effectively, his money is my money and my Florida-bound money is his. Maybe, Florida gets more of the federal pool in 2007, and Wisconsin gets more in 2008.

Southeastern Wisconsin once had an extensive light-rail system. Arteries ran from Milwaukee to Kenosha, Burlington, East Troy, Watertown, and Sheyboygan.

But, that rail system failed. How would a scaled down or equivalent system be any different? Answer: a continual siphoning of public funding to sustain operations.

What advantage does a rail system offer over existing transit options. Answer: scheduling and on-time arrivals (although my recent trip to Chicago demonstrated that this is a fallacy).

Please, please, point me to some references that argue the logical merits of light rail in Milwaukee.

Anonymous said...

Not all people are against high-speed rail in Waukesha County. I live in Waukesha county and I would love to see commuter/high speed rail finally get the go ahead. A commuter rail infrastructure is exactly what Milwaukee is lacking. But mass transit would take badly needed money from the oil tycoons, and we wouldn't want that. Maybe I don't actually count as a Waukesha county resident because I live only a few blocks away from 124th street. I have far too many Milwaukee, "Socialist," ideas to be a true Waukesha county resident. Perhaps it is because I was born in the city of Milwaukee.

Anonymous said...

Don’t waste our money on “high-speed” (fast) rail; we had those speeds 70 years ago.

We need a world-class high-speed rail system, Maglev (bullet trains 200+). A national high-speed (bullet) rail is viable in the US; it has been recommended for our long-term transportation needs by independent government reports for several years now. However, up until recently it was strongly opposed by the air travel industry and highway lobby. The benchmark report on this is (GAO-02-185).

I am going to try and quickly answer some of the questions and comments:

According to the state of California, high-speed rail will cost 1/3 that cost of airport expansions (6,500 US airports); unlike commercial aviation, it is sustainable; it would reduce the amount of flights and congestion by more than 50%, while reducing road congestion measurably; it would create millions of new jobs and thousands of spin-off businesses.

It is a law that they must use off the self technology that is tested and ready to go, so the turn around time is very short.

There is a white paper by top experts that has a short-long term plan/ concept that is embraced by at least 2 airlines and the International Air transport Association, which includes high-speed rail as a medium long-term solution. If asked, I will try to post.

Train travel is subsidize; however, much less than aviation. Travel by air has lost scores of billions since its introduction. It gets about 100 billion dollars every 3 years or so, in tax money and handouts from local, state and federal governments; Amtrak, about 1-1/2 billion annually.

According to the DOT: Air travel only averages about 60MPH, door-to-door, for regional travel (about 500 miles).

All that said… and keeping in mind that airports are generally owned by local governments and are cash cows, until the old guard wastes all of our tax dollars on their projects and the tide turns, I see little change in the status quo. It is your money, or what is left that they are wasting.

BTW: with the new technology that they used in China, maglev is as cheap or perhaps even cheaper than fast rail (high-speed).

Maglev would be much cheaper than commercial air travel.

Dispelling the myths: Transporting America Beyond Trains, Planes, Automobiles… and Oil

Anonymous said...

I'm extremely pro-rail. But author Rowen's condescending name-calling is immature and certainly doesn't advance our cause. People who oppose rail have serious concerns which need to be addressed, not ridiculed. You don't convert a lot of people to your opinion with such childish tactics, do you?

James Rowen said...

To the last Anon: I think you are over-reacting to the text.

Consider the history: Waukesha's county exec. and county board blocked advancing a study calling for light rail - - that would have operated only in Milwaukee County.

Waukesha County had been withdrawn from the study plan.

And the prevailing political posture in Waukesha is still heavily against transit - - Waukesha County will not join a regional transit authority.

I suggest that your annoyance, if I can call it that, is misdirected.

Kate G. said...

What did happen with the SE Wisconsin light rail system? And what about the on-going attempts to get the KRM going (Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee, which would originate out of Chicago)? I keep on hearing conflicting things, such as that Racine voted against it because it would have been funded with a surtax on car rentals; in other cases, people say Kenosha has opposed this.
I'm desperate for the rail, I commute FROM Chicago and the trains just don't run for that population.
(In the interests of not contributing to global climate change as much, I commute up once a week and stay in Kenosha the whole week.)
I've tried to find groups to join to lobby for more and better public transportation in SE Wisconsin, but I can't seem to find any active organizations.