Mayor Dave’s Blog

Staying On Track

November 4, 2010 12:25 PM

“As a governor, I know that mass transit is important for a variety of reasons to many people in my state. And I know that rail transit, including intercity rail, could and should play a much larger role than it currently does in serving the people of Wisconsin.”

Sounds like Governor Jim Doyle, but it isn’t. It’s Republican Governor Tommy Thompson writing in a forward to a book titled, “Does Transit Work? A Conservative Reappraisal.”

As I said in this space yesterday, Governor-Elect Scott Walker and I have to try to work together to move issues of mutual concern forward, and I intend to do that. So, I’ve already reached out to him for a meeting so that we can establish a solid working relationship.

He has said that the first and last things on his agenda will be the economy, and he’s absolutely right about that. And that’s one of the reasons I’m asking for an opportunity to lay out the case for high speed rail. It’s not just good for Madison; it’s a job creator for the entire state.

The last two governors, Thompson and Jim Doyle, were huge supporters of high speed rail and now we’re on the cusp of making it happen. High speed rail is incredibly important to our state’s economic future. It will put people to work now and put us literally on the map as a progressive, connected, high tech state. And it’ll be heavily used. In Madison alone, DOT projects over a half million riders in its first year of operation.

Previous governors, Republican and Democrat, understood that being the first state on the Midwest High Speed Rail network had big advantages for the reality of mobility and for the dynamic image that will boost our economy statewide. That’s why Thompson and Doyle, who didn’t agree on much else, both worked tirelessly to get us to this point.

So, in the days ahead we have to work to address the concerns the Governor-Elect has about rail so that we don’t lose the tremendous advantage that is currently ours.