Rail news is good news for a change
Plain Talk - Dave Zweifel - The Capital Times - June 26, 1997
An agreement was reached to keep Amtrak service between Chicago and Milwaukee going until at least June 1996. U.S. Transportation Secretary Federico Pena gave Wisconsin permission to direct $1 million of existing federal money to help subsidize the rail service.
The Milwaukee-Chicago route, which saves millions of highway miles every year, was to have been severely cut back this June 30.
And then here in Dane County, a committee studying commuter rail service made considerable headway in its quest to make that dream come true.
The map accompanying todays column is an over-simplification of what the committee is looking at for the first phase of building the service here. Eventually, service would be expanded west to Mazomanie (and who knows -- maybe some day all the way to Spring Green, Taliesin and the American Players outdoor theater) and east to Sun Prairie and possibly Marshall.
The project makes such good sense -- and at a cost that is less per mile than conventional four-lane highways -- that it is being enthusiastically endorsed by state, university, city and county officials.
Indeed, as longtime rail supporter Rodney Kreunen pointed out at last weeks meeting, there could be enough savings in highway and parking construction to pay for the system.
The cost of expanding Highway 12 between Middleton and Sauk City, for example, is more than $60 million. The 14.8 mile initial phase of the commuter rail system could be built for about $12 million because roughly half o the mileage is already owned by the state.
The dollar figure includes building a link between downtown and the Coliseum, which could give future convention business a boost.
Its an exciting and practical idea that deserves to be put on the fast track to reality.
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Revised: March 02, 1998.