Thursday, January 8, 2015

The proximity of WI rail safety to patronage, politics

A regular scene in Milwaukee's Third Ward above 1st Street looking north to downtown at 12 noon on Wednesday: freight rail moves past offices, businesses and lofts.

State rail safety oversight is in the hands of Jeff Plale, a former financial services employee and Democratic state senator. Plale lost his seat in a 2010 primary, then was given a $90,000 administrative patronage job by newly-elected GOP Governor Scott Walker before being named by Walker as Wisconsin Railroad Commissioner at the same salary.

From the Railroad commissioner's exclamation-point laden website:
Welcome to the Office of the Commissioner of Railroads! I'm glad you stopped by. 
Our mission here is simple; keep the trains moving, keep people moving, and make sure they aren't moving into each other.
Rail traffic in Wisconsin is growing exponentially! Trains are running throughout the state at higher speeds, more frequently, and sometimes on lines that have either been closed or have not seen trains in years.
Safety is our number one goal! On a daily basis, we work with railroad companies, local units of government, shippers, law enforcement, and citizens to achieve this goal.  
ALWAYS treat a rail crossing with the expectation that a train is coming. STOP. LOOK. LISTEN. It's a simple concept, but it is so important because rail safety is no accident!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've frequently seen trains like these making their way through Brookfield and Elm Grove (past schools, parks, residences . . .)