High Speed Progress
April 23, 2009 11:41 AM
There was more good news last week on prospects for connecting Madison to Milwaukee, Chicago, the Twin Cites and other points in the Midwest with high speed rail. President Obama announced that in addition to the $8 billion for high speed rail projects in the stimulus bill, he planned to put another $1 billion a year in his budgets for high speed rail in each of the next five years.
The president said the money would be used to focus on ten corridors, including the Midwest High Speed Rail Initiative that has Chicago at its hub. This project could get a further boost this October if Chicago is selected as host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Madison would host three of the cycling events for the Chicago games. And Chicago's star had to rise quite a bit when an internationally popular Chicagoan got elected President of the United States. Getting lots of people easily and quickly from Chicago to Madison and back would be important if the games were to come here.
So, it's time to dust off the plans and the conversation about where a high speed rail station (or stations) should be located in Madison. It seems that the State Department of Transportation believes strongly that a station should be at the Dane County Regional Airport. That makes some sense as the airport has parking and connecting different forms of transportation is convenient for travelers. But on the other hand, the airport is a few miles from downtown Madison and the UW campus, where many of those travelers want to go. So, another stop downtown at Monona Terrace or maybe near the Kohl Center might be in order.
There needs to be a lot more conversation about this as prospects for the return of intercity rail to Madison are now becoming very likely. I've asked city transportation planner Dave Trowbridge and others to start having a look at that. I'll have more later on how we might structure that conversation.