Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 18 months, it’s no secret governor-elect Scott Walker wants to return the $800+ million in funds the federal government has allocated to Wisconsin for a high-speed passenger rail line between Milwaukee and Madison. In voicing his desire to see those funds returned to the federal government, Walker has asserted those funds could reallocated to Wisconsin to be used for transportation infrastructure needs, such as bridges and roads. However, it appears Walker’s assertion is wrong, at least according to Republican Rep. Tom Petri, who has indicated it’s “very unlikely” the money allocated for passenger rail can be reallocated to WisconsinU.S. Rep. Tom Petri of Fond du Lac, a veteran member of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he supports Walker’s plan but sees little hope for it to succeed. That’s because the money already has been set aside specifically for rail and there are other states requesting it for that purpose, Petri said in an interview.
Petri opposed the federal stimulus bill containing the rail funding but has not taken a position on the Madison-to-Milwaukee rail project itself, which would include a possible stop in his district in Watertown.
“Now this money, if Wisconsin decides not to use it, is still in that grant program and in the normal course of events would be rebid and (would go to) New York or California or one of the (other) states,” Petri said. “For us to keep that money would require us to change the law and that would mean getting the votes of (states like) New York and California and Florida. It’s conceivable but very unlikely.”
No doubt Wisconsin’s loss will be New York, California, and Florida’s gain.