I sat in The Hiawatha's "Quiet Car" earlier this week riding the rails to Chicago, plugged my phone into a wall socket and thought what a mistake Wrong-Way Walker made killing Amtrak expansion to Madison.\
He did more than eliminate a federally-funded, job-creating new regional rail link to Madison.
He also killed a comfortable, low-cost/TSA-and-hassle-free Midwestern alternative to unpleasant plane or car travel, too.
On the Milwaukee-Chicago route, there are no tolls to pay, no road traffic congestion, no big parking fees when you get there.
And in an era of air rage, no fighting over disappearing leg room, no being scrunched into a middle seat, as the wide, side-by-side Amtrak seats recline deeply.
And the trains are Wi-Fi enabled. My ticket cost $21. Downtown-to-downtown.
What Walker did, for political reasons, was target the UW community and Blue-voting Madison, reducing transportation options and denying Bucky simple, greener access to points East and West.
What was there not to like?
Operational costs? Please.
Walker is spending billions of dollars and borrowing heavily in the face of new self-made budget deficits to expand highways - - projects which will require millions of dollars more yearly for repairs, maintenance, plowing, patrolling - - and planning for the next round of construction - - followed by repairs, maintenance, plowing, patrolling, etc., ad infinitum.
His Amtrak blockade was ideological, spiteful, and counter-productive - - having cost the state and his administration construction and spin-off jobs that could have been credited towards his now-unattainable 250,000 new jobs promise.And while his obstruction to Amtrak construction may have helped Walker win in 2010, it could help defeat him in November and derail him for 2016, too.
I hope a new Governor can get us back on track.