MADISON, Wis. — The overwhelming benefits of high speed rail set for Wisconsin, including 13,000 new jobs, billions of dollars in benefits and reduced dependence on foreign oil, are the subject of a new One Wisconsin Now video produced by University of Wisconsin-Madison senior William Barnes. The video is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEwgv1fQDSQ.
The video also highlights the bipartisan support inside and outside Wisconsin for high speed rail, which was first advanced by then-Gov. Tommy Thompson beginning in 1992 and approved by Gov. Jim Doyle. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker supported fellow Republican Thompson’s call for high speed rail when Walker was a member of the state legislature, but has had an election-year conversion on rail.
“High speed rail has everything for Wisconsin – from 13,000 jobs to billions of dollars in benefits to a real chance to reduce our dependency on foreign oil,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “High speed rail is coming to Wisconsin and with it comes a fully-functioning 21st century transportation system at last.”
Walker’s election-year opposition has brought criticism from both sides of the political aisle, notably Republican Mayor Ron Krueger of Watertown, a rail champion who expects Watertown alone to generate $20-$25 million worth of economic development from the rail project. Krueger reports in the video: “when [Walker] was in the state legislature and Tommy Thompson was Governor he supported it. And now because of purely partisan political actions and stances he’s opposing it. And that’s disconcerting.”
High speed rail between Madison and Milwaukee was finally approved for Wisconsin in 2009 through investment by the Obama Administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the leadership of Gov. Doyle.
Among the highlights and benefits of the project:
- 13,000 new jobs for Wisconsin in the next three to four years;
- $822 million worth of work;
- $3.5 to 4.6 billion over the next several decades in reduced travel time, reduce congestion and reduced contamination emissions;
- Substantial reduction in the state’s dependence on foreign oil, which conservative founder of the Heritage Foundation Paul Weyrich called, “0ne of our greatest national vulnerabilities.”
“High speed rail will bring jobs now to Wisconsin workers and benefits to Wisconsin families for generations to come,” said Ross. “The leaders who supported high speed rail for Wisconsin were truly on the side of Wisconsin’s families and Wisconsin’s workers.”
One Wisconsin Now’s five-minute video includes additional experts who offer their analysis of the benefits of rail, such as Paul Trombino from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Sara Rogers of the AFL-CIO and Bruce Speight from WISPIRG.
- WISPIRG “The Right Track”: http://www.wispirg.org/home/reports/report-archives/transportation-reports/transportation/the-right-track
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation: http://www.dot.state.wi.us/projects/d1/hsrail/index.htm
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation “Milwaukee-Madison High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Service”: http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/recovery/docs/rail-grant-13.pdf
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation “Economic Impacts of the Midwest regional Rail System”: http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/projects/state/docs/mwrri-regional-brochure.pdf
- U.S. Energy Information Administration “Petroleum Statistics”: http://www.eia.doe.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=oil_home#tab2