Wisconsin Halts Construction of High Speed Rail Project after Anti-Rail Candidate Wins Office

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Rendering of Milwaukee's proposed intermodal station.

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Contractors in Wisconsin received a one line email telling them to stop work on high-speed rail construction. This came after rail-opponent, Republican Scott Walker won the governorship on Tuesday. But it was sitting governor and rail-supporter Jim Doyle's administration that made the call to halt progress now.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation issued the orders saying the stoppage is "just for a few days," though  the Journal-Sentinel is reporting that some contractors have already initiated some layoffs as a result. Sadly, that may be the point. DOT Chief Frank Busalacchi said in a written statement this is "to assess the real-world consequences, including the immediate impacts to people and their livelihoods, if this project were to be stopped." Already, a locally-based but foreign-owned train maker Talgo Inc. has said it might not stay in the area if the project is scrapped.

Governor-elect Walker  has been an adamant opponent of the project even though construction would be 100 percent funded by federal dollars. The operating costs would fall on the State to pay. He doubts there is sufficient demand for the service and says Wisconsin just can't afford it.

The official DOT site for Wisconsin's Milwaukee to Madison HSR project.