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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

High cost of railway plans fires up crowd

From an article in Brookfield Now by Aaron Martin:

But supporters laud vision for balanced travel system

Is it high-speed rail or a runaway freight train?

That depends who you ask, but Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials had their hands full Tuesday night fielding fevered questions from about 170 people who attended a forum on the proposed $8 billion initiative to connect Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and the Twin Cities.

Brookfield is one of three communities on the Madison-Milwaukee line targeted to host a passenger station. A $17.9 million station is proposed to be along Brookfield Road, near River Road, in Brookfield's Village Area.

Donna Brown, DOT passenger rail planning manager, said environmental studies for the stations will soon be completed. The next step is final station site selection, followed by engineering and design. Construction could begin as soon as January, and the rail could be up and running in 2013.

The DOT anticipates 128,611 people would pass through Brookfield's station in its first year, and more than 145,000 by 2020. A ticket from Brookfield to Madison would cost $70 roundtrip, and a ticket to Chicago would cost $97.

Charlie Webb of the DOT said early estimates indicate it would cost about $30,000 a year to maintain a station in Brookfield.

"That's snow removal, cleanup around the station, mowing the grass," he said. "Certainly there are opportunities for the city to offset that."

Strong opposition
Patti Mealins of West Allis said federal and state finances are out of control, and the high-speed rail initiative would be a good place to rein in spending.

"I just don't understand. It's a waste of taxpayer money, and it's upsetting. I think most people are against it, but the government doesn't care. We're going to get it anyway," Mealins said.

Many other people who milled about the Brookfield Elementary School gym, reading information off large poster boards and talking with DOT officials, seemed to share Mealins' frustration.

Someone left a note on a photograph of the proposed rail route that read: "Not with my tax money - use private money. We don't need the train."

1 comment:

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