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Friday, February 13, 2009

Coalition says west central Wisconsin should get high-speed rail

From a new release posted on WQOW-TV, Eau Claire:

Eau Claire (News Release) - With the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in Eau Claire today to receive public comment on its "Connections 2030" long-range transportation plan, the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition is seeking changes to the plan that would include the region in WisDOT's plans for a high speed rail network.

Members of the coalition applaud much of the philosophy of the draft Connections 2030 plan, which includes a major state policy goal to provide Wisconsin citizens with more transportation choice by improving passenger train service and other non-automobile travel options. In the draft plan, WisDOT says it "envisions a 21st century intercity passenger rail system that links the Midwest region's major economic centers."

Unfortunately, West Central Wisconsin is not included in that network, which would be built in three phases with routes serving Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison-La Crosse-St. Paul and Milwaukee-Green Bay. The plan only promises to "consider" service to area once the entire network is completed more than a decade from now.

The Coalition points out that West Central Wisconsin - which encompasses the Chippewa Valley and St. Croix Valley areas from Eau Claire/Chippewa Falls through Menomonie and Hudson/River Falls - is one of the fastest growing population areas in the state, growth that could be stunted if the area is left out of the network.

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