Sunday, July 9, 2017

Amtrak line killed by Walker could have fed Foxconn

Right-wing GOP WI Governor and shallow ideologue Scott Walker for the narrowest of partisan and self-serving political motives wiped out the federally-funded Hiawatha Amtrak connection between Madison and Milwaukee and south through Racine County to Chicago.

So there is more fresh context to Walker's stupid move beyond the lost ridership and convenience and intercity connections felt everyday in the region if you absorb these few relevant sentences in a long Journal Sentinel piece about the potential move by electronics behemoth Foxconn to build a massive plant near Racine: 

If Foxconn landed tomorrow, it would siphon tech talent from existing employers, leaving gaping holes throughout the region in one information technology department after another. Wage inflation would be inevitable, particularly for high-tech positions, as would be a new breed of long-distance commuter drawn from Chicago and Madison, who would spend hours every day on I-94, business leaders concur.
"Hours every day on I-94?"

What kind of selling point is that?

No one wants to or should spend their days that way, especially since I-94 is in the midst of years of delayed construction south from Milwaukee through Racine and Kenosha counties and east from Milwaukee through the Zoo interchange, and in a few years I-94 west from the Zoo Interchange to the Jefferson County line.

If Walker hadn't obstructed the Amtrak extension to win anti-Obama votes in Waukesha County during his 2010 campaign and then as follow-through when sworn in, the Madison-Milwaukee Amtrak line would be finished.

And there is already an Amtrak Hiawatha line stop in the Racine county Village of Sturtevant.


I wrote a summary piece in 2013 about Walker's anti-train, anti-urban, job-killing maneuvering, and I opened with an observation from long-time Wisconsin journalist Marc Eisen, which I reprint here:
The veteran Wisconsin writer Marc Eisen eloquently described Scott "Walker's fateful decision to reject an $810 million federal grant to build a passenger rail line connecting Madison and Milwaukee....

"The I-94 corridor linking Dane County with Milwaukee and Waukesha will likely be the state's 21st-century economic engine. In turn, it will be a vital link in what technology booster Tom Still has called the "I-Q Corridor" — the 400-mile stretch of interstate connecting the heavyweight metropolises of Chicago and the Twin Cities.

"'That corridor contains some of the nation's leading research universities, well-educated tech workers and thriving tech-based companies at all stages of development," Still, who's president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, wrote a few years ago.

"Now imagine an updated rail system carrying people from the Twin Cities to downtown Chicago in less than six hours — even faster than driving and on a par with a complicated airline connection.

'Oops! Don't consider it. That scenario is precisely what Walker killed when he gave back the $810 million — federal funding that would have paid the full capital costs of connecting Madison to Milwaukee." 

No comments: