January 27, 2010 11:13 PM
High speed rail is coming to Madison. President Barack Obama's White House made the announcement Wednesday night. The Madison to Milwaukee route is the fourth largest of the many projects announced as part of the $8 billion investment in rail. Only major projects in California, Florida and Illinois are bigger.
This is a huge win for Wisconsin's economy in two ways. First, it means lots of family-supporting jobs will be created in the design, engineering and building of the lines and the stations. It could even mean that some of the trains themselves or their components could be built here in Wisconsin. And after the service gets up and operating, it means that Wisconsin's center of industry and commerce in Milwaukee will be much more closely united to its center of government and research here in Madison. The tighter collaborations that will occur with this rail connection are going to result in new products, services and efficiencies that we can't even fully predict today.
Within a few years we'll be able to board a train to Milwaukee and work on our computers, make phone calls or read documents while we enjoy the scenery. And if we want we can keep going to Chicago and points beyond. No white knuckle traffic, no parking to worry about and hours of productivity or relaxation in between. As our airports and highways become more congested, having this new option will be incredibly important. Being one of the first communities in the U.S. to be connected by this new system will literally put us on the map and bring new excitement and investment to Madison.
We'll now get down to work on finalizing our station locations. We'll go for something on the Near East Side and perhaps another station at the Dane County Airport.
Finally, let's thank our Governor Jim Doyle. The Governor has been a relentless advocate for rail and his connections with the President couldn't have hurt our cause. Governor Doyle has been dealt lots of tough hands and he's had to make too many tough decisions. Today he gets to bask in an historic decision that could end up being his best legacy.