High Speed Rail: Missing the forest for the treesPosted: April 6, 2010
For those of us who have been following the drama of Wisconsin’s bid for a high speed rail system to ultimately connect the Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison-Minneapolis corridor, Rep. Davis’ (R-Oregon) bill is hardly unexpected.
This bill would effectively kill the current project of spending $180 million to connect Madison and Milwaukee with an improved infrastructure by requiring that the full legislature approve all federal dollars before they are spent. Now, I’m a big fan of legislatures but this is money set aside for a very specific purpose and as Mayor Dave says in the linked article, if we don’t use it, another state will.
I’m in the process of arranging meetings with many of my contacts in the Assembly and Senate to speak to legislators about the necessity of haste in this matter but this bill is besides my main point.
The article about the state first accepting the money (another link here) has some very troubling comments that prompted me to write (agreeably a bit late, but the concerns are still alive) this post.
First, the argument that there isn’t enough demand between Milwaukee and Madison is completely besides the point in addition to being mistaken. This project is Step 1 in a long term plan to connect the region! Regardless of if you believe Madison-Milwaukee has enough intertransit demand, the grand project (the forest, if you will) has a large amount of demand! Please, try to see the bigger picture.
Secondly, those concerned with the location of Madison’s proposed station being at the airport should be concerned. It’s a dumb idea. Hear me, Mayor Dave, WisDOT, and Gov. Doyle? Dumb.
A much better idea is the proposed Yahara Station (more articles Here). This proposal would bring the station to the instersection of 1st St. and East Washington Ave. This area is currently an island of emptiness surrounded by roads that is not used by any of the surrounding neighborhoods (in fact, they have all voted to support this proposal) and is at the end of an area that the City of Madison has designated as the area where they want to focus growth on (the East Wash corridor).
This station is only 3 miles from the capital, already is located on 18 bus routes (as opposed to a handful at the capital), and brings people closer to their endgoal (the UW, capital, Kohl Center, Monona Terrace, etc).
Next Tuesday, developer and Yahara Station proponant Barry Gore, in conjunction with ASM Legislative Affairs, will be giving a brief presentation on the Yahara Station to students on campus. More details on that to come.
Overall, I urge students to get behind the high speed rail program. Madison and Wisconsin in general is in a unique position to have a large boon to our economy and spur new growth along these corridors. Don’t disregard the entire project because you personally will never use the train, get over it; this project can do many good and beneficial things for our state.