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Wisconsin Governor-elect Walker would consider support for freight-rail projects


Even though he remains opposed to a high-speed rail corridor from Chicago through Milwaukee to the state capital in Madison, Wisconsin Governor-elect Scott Walker did not rule out the possibility of state financing for other new rail projects during a Milwaukee Press Club-sponsored luncheon held Dec. 7.

Walker envisions a continuing role for railroads as part of intermodal transportation budget priorities in his administration, he said.

“I don’t have a problem with rail in general. Funding for the Hiawatha between Chicago and Milwaukee, and the train to Minneapolis is fine,” he said. “Freight rail offers a great opportunity to build up our [shipments] of grain and iron ore.”

Once he takes office, Walker said he plans to overhaul the state budget with two overriding priorities: creating and/or preserving jobs and cutting taxes, with the goal of making Wisconsin more attractive to business investment. Industries, including railroads, will find his administration willing to listen provided their proposals meet his two objectives, he said.

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it was redirecting $810 million Wisconsin was set to receive for high-speed rail improvements between Milwaukee and Madison — along with $400 million set aside for Ohio — to states that were “eager” to advance high-speed rail projects, according to a press release.

by Steve Waring, a Milwaukee-based free-lance writer

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/10/2010