Destroying the Transportation Fund in Order to Save It
December 13, 2010 4:21 PM
Scott Walker's wrong-headed approach to high speed rail is going to take money away even from roads. That's ironic since Walker said he thought the federal money intended to build a Midwest rail network through Wisconsin should have gone for roads instead.
Here's how it works. There are over $100 million in costs associated with the Milwaukee Train Shed, track improvements on the corridor and maintenance facility for the popular Hiawatha Line linking that city to Chicago. Because the new high speed rail line that Walker has now killed would have connected Chicago to the Twin Cities through Milwaukee and Madison, the feds were going to pick up that $100 million in improvements as part of the $810 million set aside for the Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison part of the project.
But now that Walker has turned back the federal money so that it can be spent on the same kind of project in other states, Wisconsin will have to pick up that $100 million through the very same state Transportation Fund that Walker said he was trying to protect.
It gets worse. At most, the annual operating costs for the Milwaukee to Madison portion of the line would have been around $7 million. That's the main reason Walker said he opposed the project. But now the state will have to shoulder more than 14 times as much to make those necessary improvements in Milwaukee. In other words, for what it's going to cost us to make those improvements we could have paid for the Milwaukee to Madison operating costs for fourteen years.
And here's the real kicker. Where is that $100 million going to come from? The very same state Transportation Fund that pays for roads. So, by turning down the high speed rail money Walker is actually hurting the road projects he said he wanted to protect.