Thought others would like to see what is being sent as a response to calls of concern to Doyle's office.
State of Wisconsin
November 23, 2010
Thank you for contacting me in the wake of the news about the future of high speed rail in Wisconsin. I appreciate your comments and ongoing support for the project.
The high speed rail project is one that is very important to Wisconsin, and is one that I have worked on for many years. During the past several years, we have made Wisconsin a regional rail leader.
When President Obama announced his initial investment in modern high speed rail, Wisconsin was the biggest winner. The $823 million Wisconsin received is more than 10 percent of all the funds awarded nationally for high speed rail projects, and Wisconsin was the only state to receive all of the funds it applied for.
There are real consequences for not going forward. More than 400 Wisconsin workers scheduled to work on the project during the next several months face the possibility of being laid off. The job losses for workers in the early phases of the project include:
• 272 lost construction jobs on track and bridge reconstruction, and train shed construction;
• 70 lost engineering firm jobs; and
• 60 lost design and consulting jobs.
Over the entire project, job losses will be even greater if Governor-elect Walker refuses the federal money. The construction, engineering and design that would have been needed to complete the rail corridor will instead experience:
• 1,281 job losses in the first year;
• 4,060 job losses in the second year;
• 5,535 job losses in the third year;
• 1,847 job losses in the fourth year;
• 621 job losses in the fifth year; and
• 250 job losses in the final year.
In addition, 125 manufacturing jobs will be lost because Wisconsin workers won’t build the train sets needed to serve Wisconsin travelers.
We are at the point where construction is ready to begin immediately. While I could force the issue, I believe that this project will only be successful in the long run if the State of Wisconsin and the U.S. Department of Transportation are strong partners. For that reason, I have put the project on pause.
If Governor-elect Walker continues to oppose the project, U.S. DOT has made it clear, and has reiterated in recent days, that the money will go to one of the many states willing to move forward with high speed passenger rail.
In addition to Wisconsin job losses, over $14 million in expenses incurred over the last six months will need to be paid for by Wisconsin taxpayers. Necessary upgrades to the existing Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago totaling $82 million will no longer be eligible for federal assistance, shifting costs from the federal government to the state. These include $18 million in platform renovations at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station necessary to bring the platform into compliance with federal safety regulations; $12 million for platform renovations at the Milwaukee Airport Station and other important improvements to the existing Hiawatha line; and $52 million for a facility to maintain new Hiawatha train sets.
U.S. DOT has reached out to Governor-elect Walker, so he fully understands the consequences of not going ahead with the project. To me, it doesn’t make sense to not move ahead, but we have had an election. A lot of politics have been played with this issue, but I have to deal in the real world and think about how this affects jobs and the real lives of people in Wisconsin.