Interstate railway options include Wisconsin communities - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Interstate railway options include Wisconsin communities

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MADISON, WI (KWWL) -- Alternatives for a nine-state network of trains could include Prairie du Chien and La Crosse.

Midwestern leaders' vision is to create railways linking Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Minneapolis-St. Paul, but the Wisconsin governor-elect may derail the idea.

Scott Walker has called the construction a waste of taxpayer money.

Minnesota transportation officials are still moving forward with a series of meetings in that state along with four in Wisconsin. They want to obtain information for an environmental impact study on roughly a dozen proposed rail routes between the Twin Cities and Chicago via Milwaukee.

Officials say although previous plans focused on routes through Madison, the new study is looking at 14 possibilities, none of which has been ruled out.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that most of those options lead through Madison and then go west through Prairie du Chien or northwest through either La Crosse or Eau Claire. But three proposals would bypass Madison.

One would follow the existing route of the Empire Builder, which stops in Milwaukee, Columbus, Portage, Wisconsin Dells, Tomah and La Crosse. The Empire Builder makes daily trips between Chicago, the Twin Cities and the Pacific Northwest.

Two other options would run north through Fond du Lac and Neenah before turning west, through Stevens Point.

Walker has said he would be open to spending the $810 million on upgrading current Hiawatha and Empire Builder routes -- but that would require federal approval.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said the stimulus money can be spent only on a high-speed rail, although his office has declined to comment on whether the cash could be shifted to other rail projects.

 

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