Friday, November 19, 2010

Did WisDOT Analyze The Costs And Benefits Of The Madison-Milwaukee Rail Line - - And Its Termination?

I remember from my days in Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist's office during his efforts to get the state to reduce the scale and cost of the Marquette Interchange that value analyses are routinely done in-house or by state consultants to compute the costs and benefits of major projects.

With the feds paying the entire $810 million Wisconsin rail line construction cost, the state was to be left with an annual operating charge of $7.5 million - - but reduced by 90% to $750,000, the feds also have said.

The train was to produce more than 4,700 construction jobs through 2013 and create at least 55 full-time operator and other jobs just in this Wisconsin piece of a Midwestern network,  - - so my question is, did the state figure out what the projected state income tax payments would be on worker and contractor salaries, for example, and also the projected sales taxes on materials purchased for the line's construction?

More than $750,000? No doubt.

In other words - - wouldn't the state have recovered more than enough money to meet the annual $750,000 operating cost of the train - - and by a factor large enough to pay that bill for many years?

So even without looking into the additional benefits - - development near stations, secondary employment, tourism and business travel - - isn't the state actually losing money along with losing the train line?

Second related issue:

Let's say that the amount owed to feds for work done and contracts terminated is less than the earlier estimate of $100-$135 million.

Let's take a really generously reduced estimate - - that somehow the state only has to repay to the feds about  $35 million - - somewhere between roughly a third and a quarter of the existing estimate.

That equals to almost 50 years of of the state share of the operating expense, at $750,000 annually, give or take a few bucks/

And without taking into account the value of the lost service to consumers, the cleaner air, the jobs and paychecks, plus the state sales and income tax collections  - - you tell me - - where's the benefit to killing the train?

All the costs seem to be penalties to the state and the workforce.

By any measure I can imagine, the train is a bargain.

Where is the purported business acumen of train-killer Scott Walker and his incoming Republican allies?


Anonymous said...

Come on, Governor-Elect Walker: See the truth of this matter, that the State has every advantage in accepting this almost-unimaginably generous federal support for fast train lines that will benefit our state and surrounding states in so many ways. Be a man, be a wise governor and do the right thing. The power of talk radio that you fear actually boils down to a coupla guys who rant and rave and drown out the voice of the people, of common sense, and the common good. Do the right thing for all of us.

M.O'M. said...

The $7,500,000 figure is for total annual operation. Scott is making the assumption that the train will run a full schedule with no passengers and collect no fares.