Feb 11, 2010

WI high speed Rail may be the model of unsustainable

Lets make it clear that this kind of money could make Wisconsin nearly energy independent and fiscally sustainable creating 10,000 of jobs.

Highspeed rail will not...
"long-term drain on state transportation money," in a state currently crippled by transportation overspending.

HTML clipboardState legislators want hard figures on the annual cost of running a Madison-to-Milwaukee high-speed rail line before approving construction.
That is unlikely to happen.

People around the country are asking the same question about operating costs for rail lines, said Laura Kliewer, director of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission. There really isn't an answer, she said, because the federal government did not start investing large amounts of money into high-speed rail until 2009.

...Gov. Jim Doyle this week asked the Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance to approve the state's acceptance of $810 million to build a Madison-to-Milwaukee high-speed rail line. The cost of operating the trains would come from the state transportation budget, said Chris Klein, executive assistant to Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi.


The state came up with a rough estimate of operating costs when it applied for the money, but the actual cost is unknown, Klein said. The estimate — $8.2 million annually in 2013 dollars — is preliminary and based on the cost of running Amtrak trains from Milwaukee to Chicago.

But finance committee member Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said she will not support accepting the money until she gets firm numbers.

"I want a definite, credible evaluation of our obligation — the pluses and the minuses, the ridership, and the costs and how all of this works — on a spreadsheet," she said. 

"I can't believe we are even having this discussion," she said, "without even knowing what we are talking about."

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