Thursday, August 7, 2014

Walker's Politicized Amtrak, Jobs Derailment Now Billboard Material

Readers of this blog over the years have probably seen innumerable posts- - many rolled into or referenced in a comprehensive, summary 2013 item - -  about Wrong-Way Walker's reversal of federal funding for Amtrak service from Milwaukee to Madison. 

Also lost after the 2010 gubernatorial election: years of good-paying rail line construction jobs and a now-shuttered train assembly factory and maintenance base in a low-income Milwaukee neighborhood, all victims of Walker's "No-train," Tea Party-inspired, self-serving and partisan attack on the federal government, out-going Gov. Jim Doyle and Pres. Barack Obama.

Rail transportation advocates haven't give up, as seen in this billboard along the now-lost rail corridor between Madison and Milwaukee. Hats off to the Environmental Law and Policy Center, (ELPC), in Chicago, for the activism and media campaign. Spread the word...
Wisconsin Gets Left Behind as Midwest Moves Forward on Rail 
Posted on ELPC-RailBillboard-2014Wisconsin state officials had been working to connect Milwaukee to Madison and St. Paul with high-speed rail for about 20 years when, in 2010, they came closer than ever to succeeding. That’s when the state was awarded an $810 million federal stimulus grant, which would have meant improved travel times, modernized passenger cars, new stations, thousands of jobs, huge economic development prospects and more. 
Unfortunately, that $810 million granted to Wisconsin ended up in Florida. Why? Because Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker turned the money down. As a result, plans to connect the Midwest’s major cities were de-railed, and the money was re-distributed by the U.S. Department of Transportation. 
ELPC recently launched an advertising campaign to help open a dialogue about how Wisconsin can get back on track with funding for passenger rail improvements. The billboard pictured above is located along I-94 about 35 miles west of Milwaukee, and a complementary poster is located at the Milwaukee Amtrak station (see below). Please use the share buttons to spread the word!Facebook-2013Twitter-2013Email-2013Here’s what improved rail would have done for Wisconsin if Gov. Walker had not de-railed the program: 
Extended Amtrak’s existing Hiawatha service … 
… from downtown Milwaukee to downtown Madison and on to St. Paul, allowing riders to travel to Chicago, or points in-between, without changing trains. By 2015, high-speed trains would have been whisking passengers along the 85-mile trip from Milwaukee to Madison at maximum speeds of 110 mph, covering the distance in 1 hour and 4 minutes. 
Amtrak in other Midwestern cities has been breaking records for ridership and the first-year ridership between Milwaukee and Madison was projected at 476,400 a year, rising to 537,100 in 2020. That works out to average daily ridership of 1,305 in 2013 and 1,472 in 2020. Potential riders would have included business travelers, students, tourists, commuters, people traveling to special events and people who can’t drive because of age or disability. 
In its application for stimulus money, the state said its operating costs, starting in 2013, would be $16.5 million a year, covered by $9 million in fares and other revenue and $7.5 million from taxpayers. 
Built passenger cars with modern amenities … 
… such as wireless Internet service; 110-volt electrical outlets for computers and cell phones; electronic passenger information displays; bicycle racks; and bistro cars providing snack and beverage service.  At least two of the four trains used on the route would have been built in Milwaukee by Spanish-owned Talgo Inc. 
Created jobs and economic development. 
During construction, jobs would have peaked at 4,732 in 2012, counting those in direct construction, at supply companies and in government. Operating and maintaining the trains, tracks and stations would have created 55 permanent jobs. Supporters say many more jobs would be created by the project’s spinoff impact on the economy.
On the heels of Walker’s decision to kill high-speed rail, Talgo closed its Milwaukee plant and sued Wisconsin for breach of contract, stating that the state is NOT business friendly. 
Brought new stations to communities. 
Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown were considered for train stations, something officials in those towns wanted badly so they would have fueled the local economies. 
Source: Milwaukee Journal SentinelELPC-RailBillboard2-2014


Anonymous said...

Couple this with his refusal to accept expanded federal Medicaid funds that would have created up to 11,000 jobs it is no wonder Wisconsin is heading in the wrong direction with jobs and the economy. All of this would have been funded by bringing federal tax dollars into the state to grow the economy in a down economic cycle. Instead of welcoming dollars into the state he took $1 billion out of our economy with his ACT 10 policies. Not only did he kill the purchasing power of 250,000 citizens but the money he took from them went into insurance companies and retirement fund portfolios that are far removed from Wisconsin's economy! That huge amount of money left the state and there is no way on earth that you can shrink an economy by $1 billion and expect it to grow jobs. We are heading for bankruptcy under this man as he increases our long term debt and soon our bond ratings will drop that will add to the cost of borrowing money. Walker is a mentor of Reagan and we all saw that his policies took us to debtor nation status!!!!

Nathanael said...

Mild correction. The money didn't end up in Florida either, because criminal governor Rick Scott (mastermind behind the biggest fraud ever committed against Medicare in US history) *also* turned the money down.

The money, in fact, ended up in three places:
- North Carolina
- Washington State
- California.

All of them are enjoying it greatly.