When Governor Walker killed the almost high speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison, he not only turned down the $800 million for construction, but he killed the jobs that went along with the train building and maintenance facilities here in Milwaukee. And of course the resulting economic development along the upgraded rail corridor and the possibility of extending the line to Minneapolis. But the governor’s addiction is macadam and concrete…no man of steel is he!
Well where did the train manufacturing jobs end up? Well in Illinois of course…the state he was so sure he could steal jobs from by being open for business! From James Rowen’s blog at Purple Wisconsin:
Today, Illinois is celebrating the news that $808 million devoted to new trains will be managed from Illinois – – or spent on building equipment for delivery to five states at a plant in Rochelle, IL that is about 25 miles south of Beloit:
Locomotives capable of exceeding the 110-mph speed limit on the passenger rail corridor between Chicago and St. Louis will be bought for Illinois and four other states under a process the Illinois Department of Transportation will lead, officials said Thursday.
The Federal Railroad Administration selected IDOT to manage the multistate procurement of at least 35 next-generation locomotives for high-speed rail corridors in Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state, Gov. Pat Quinn said.
Today’s announcement is part of the governor’s commitment to bring Illinois’ and our nation’s transportation systems into the 21st century.
“This decision by the federal government is a testament to Illinois’ role as a national leader in high-speed rail,” Governor Quinn said. “This important multi-state procurement is a key to success for high-speed rail throughout the nation, and I have directed my administration to move forward quickly.”
So we lost a couple of train jobs…no biggie…right? Well it gets better! The State of Massachusetts has started a program to upgrade their intrastate rail lines including adding track capacity to Boston’s South Station:
… a major $13 billion transportation overhaul envisioned by Gov. Deval Patrick. That overhaul is aimed chiefly at repairing and upgrading worn-out bridges, roads and commuter lines in Massachusetts, but about 20 percent of it would go toward reviving train service to the cape and elsewhere in the state.
Mr. Patrick said that upgrading these in-state routes would spur economic development. It would also provide important links for Amtrak’s long-range plans to establish high-speed train service throughout New England.
Trains would spur economic development? Well how quaint! But apparently they do and Governor Walker has cost us the jobs and development and tax revenues that accompany robust rail lines as well:
For example, the governor’s administration says, the South Coast rail line to Fall River and New Bedford would cost $1.8 billion, but it would create 3,800 jobs and generate $500 million a year in economic growth.
One of the most successful of those partnerships is the Downeaster, which has been running the 100-plus miles between Boston and Portland since 2001 and was extended up the Maine coast to Brunswick in November.
Its success has allowed it to increase the number of round trips and speed up travel time while spurring economic development along the way.
“The value we get out of it is tremendous,” said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which manages the Downeaster. She said hundreds of new housing units had been built close to the train stations, and old mills had been transformed into office and retail space.
“There is $300 million in development ongoing,” she said.
Jobs, economic development, less highway congestion…who needs that? If I only had a train…