Sunday, November 7, 2010

High-Speed Rail Is A National Economic Development Plan

Lost in the rhetoric and misstatements about the Madison-Milwaukee train is that it is a segment of a network of high-speed, modern trains to connect Chicago and the Twin Cities, and eventually become a portion of a truly national rail system.

It makes no sense to excise Wisconsin from the line. Check out this map of the Midwest plan, and remember that it will connect to routes service other regions, too.

Cutting The Madison-Milwaukee segment will cut an emerging business connection and make the state a backwater - - which is why the M7, with Scott Walker present, hailed the decisions by the Spanish train-maker Talgo to launch a Milwaukee factory and by Gov. Jim Doyle's to purchase two trains to be assembled at the Milwaukee Talgo plant.

Trains serve multiple markets.

Short-to-medium length trips are not always available by air; airports are often distant from central business districts or other job centers, and last-minute air travel can be pricey.

Many people - - the elderly, the young - - do not drive, do not own a car or have access to one.

Rail opponents, often suburbanites, need to realize that not everyone has a minivan. One size and option does not serve all.

The national high-speed rail system is intended to fill these gaps and to provide connections among business, university and tourist destinations not easily served by aviation.

Trains also offer a working environment not replicable inside a car.

Modern trains are fast, wi-fi-equipped, comfortable and imminently practical.

A new national rail network makes an infrastructure investment that fills a need, puts people to work and was to be made available in Wisconsin at no construction cost, and an annual operating charge statewide of $750,000 - - about $60,000 a month.

A bargain, as I said a few days ago.

There is $3.7 billion of freeway reconstruction and expansion on the books just on Southeastern Wisconsin alone. Another $1 billion has been proposed to add a lane from the Dells to the Illinois State line.

Not to mention the multiple millions for other state road construction or repair projects.

The  State of Wisconsin some time ago disclosed it had already spent $8.8 million on the Pabst Farms Interchange To The Not-Yet-And-Maybe-Never-Built Shopping Mall.

That's enough money to fund the train's operations for almost 12 years - - and the Interchange hasn't been built yet.

The operating dollars for the train are few bucks from the WisDOT coffers, by comparison, for a high-speed link in a Midwest, then National system.

As the scribe Wisconsin State Journal philosopher scribe used to say, "What could be more fairer?"

No comments: