Governor-Elect Scott Walker’s decision to stop the development of a regional rail system that would have connected Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Western Wisconsin and Minneapolis will have long term consequences for Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest.
The Upper Midwest region is the biggest loser in yesterday’s decision to stop passenger rail in Wisconsin. While other regions are expanding transportation options to connect economic hubs, the Upper Midwest will continue to force residents to drive between cities rather than take more convenient, cheaper and faster transportation.
Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Minneapolis are important links in the region’s economy. Linking those cities with good transportation options is critical for regional growth. Without rail, the only options are expensive air connections or long drives. It’s ironic that this decision was made just as winter arrives, highlighting the difficulty of driving during snow storms and as the media is reporting that gasoline costs will soar past the $3 a gallon mark by next week.
We will continue to educate the public about the value of rail connections and we will continue to work for an Upper Midwest regional passenger rail system.