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Wisconsin & Southern proposes funding plan to ensure state-owned track is 286k-compliant by 2015


A recent Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT)-commissioned study found bridges on state-owned rail lines need upgrades costing more than $24 million to handle 286,000-pound freight cars. Meanwhile, WisDOT is negotiating with Union Pacific Railroad to acquire an 11-mile Plymouth-to-Kohler line and attempting to acquire another line in Barron County to restore freight-rail service — both of which will need to be upgraded before train operations resume.

To ensure the state’s rail infrastructure can handle today’s traffic demands, Wisconsin needs an infrastructure funding program that addresses today’s shortcomings, Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. (WSOR) officials state in the road’s September newsletter. The 700-mile regional provides freight-rail service on state-owned lines.

“The state’s current funding program — the Freight Railroad Preservation Program — was responsive to our infrastructure needs 25 years ago,” officials said. “[But] each year, existing industries expand or new industries locate in our state, and it is important they can count on a viable and responsive railroad system to meet their growing needs.”

To that end, WSOR recently developed the “8+3 Plan,” a budget proposal that would help ensure state-owned track is 286k-compliant by 2015, officials said. The plan calls for the state to spend $8 million annually on track and bridge upgrades, and $3 million annually on line acquisitions.

By year’s end, WSOR officials plan to present the 8+3 Plan to Gov. Jim Doyle and Wisconsin legislators, and propose the measure be part of the 2007/2009 biennial budget.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/9/2006