Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Waukesha Still Balking At Rail Stops; So It Goes

It is looking more and more as if Waukesha County communities will decline stations and thus disconnect themselves from Amtrak high-speed rail service connecting Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison.

Republicans have made their opposition to the train a partisan, anti-government 2010 campaign issue, and I don't see local elected officials in Waukesha County stirring up the conservative base to endorse the train even though these municipalities and residents will lose the economic development and citizen conveniences that the train line will produce.

These communities will come to regret their opposition especially when I-94 and the Zoo Interchange undergo their planned decades of reconstruction, and the price of gasoline inevitably moves higher.

Stations built in the future after suburbs clamor for them, as has happened elsewhere, will come at greater expense.

So it goes.

As does the continually negative signal, a message of detachment, sent Milwaukee's way by communities and leaders to the west.

New Berlin has already done it by refusing to build an apartment project available to working-class wage earners, and to include progress on housing or any other regional/socoi-economic issue in the water sale agreement it made with Milwaukee in 2008.

And there is widespread sentiment in the City of Waukesha against any such comprehensive water agreement with Milwaukee, too.

Water, yes.

Regional cooperation, no.

Although Milwaukee can have Waukesha's treated waste water, which Waukesha defines as a valuable environmental resource, thank you very much.

I see Waukesha County further isolating itself from the neighbors to the East - - by choice.

The consequences will sort themselves out; Maybe Waukesha water users will spend multiple millions more on piping and pumping equipment to buy water from more distant Racine or Oak Creek, and the train to and from Milwaukee to Madison will lose some ridership but gain speed between the major cities.

So it goes.


Anonymous said...

Apparently most of the region does not want this unnecessary train.

Milwaukee is the one not cooperating.

Anonymous said...

First of all, the AMTRAK is not going to Madison. The tracks from Watertown to Madison are for Doyle's Bamboozler Express. The AMTRAK is not going to back-up to Watertown to rejoin the tracks. Phase 2 of this scam will require another billion to complete the tracks from Madison to the Dells or Portage.

Secondly, you are counting your eggs before they hatch. If Scott Walker is elected, he is going to kill the train. You lefties can put rubber wheels on it to roll between Madison and Milwaukee via I-94.

Joshua Skolnick said...

To the fact-free "Anonymous" commenters that fail to enumerate specific reasons to oppose the train, and, like the chickenhawk conservatives that you are in not even giving a pseudonym, I give you several counterpoints of why the train is a good idea:

1. Peak oil. The first signs of it are already apparent, and gas prices would be much higher if the economy were stronger. Oil output has not increased since 2005 despite market signals through higher prices, which should spur more production, if that were possible.
2. The total cost of roads and their external expenses including wars in the middle east, flooding from runoff, water and air pollution, etc, are not paid for by the users of the roads. It is a government subsidy, which you profess to hate. The true price of gasoline, with all externalities factored in, is between $15 and $20 per gallon. You people know how to add, but not subtract.
3. A train can travel at 110 mph in a snowstorm (quite common in Wisconsin), and in fact the Milwaukee Road did that with steam engines in the 1930s. Try that in a rubber tired vehicle in a snowstorm on the road, or in an airplane.
4.A few years back one of your heroes, Scott McCallum, thought it was a good idea to fly a plane from Madison to Janesville. Talk about waste.
5. Do a little comparison. Try driving from Harvard, Il to downtown Chicago and compare the cost of driving and parking to that of the METRA train. Even at a top speed of 79 mph, the METRA train will beat car timings and costs nearly every time point to point.

Then come back with a real, fact-based response.