22.7.09

HALF MEASURES. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism asks difficult questions about the extension of the Hiawatha service from Milwaukee to the Madison airport.


Their report prompts Charlie Sykes to label the project a boondoggle. The problem the project faces is one created by the economic stimulus legislation: to put workers to work quickly, only projects that have passed environmental review are eligible. One such project is the Midwest High Speed Rail project to speed up the Chicago - Twin Cities service and turn it into a corridor. The flaw: "To route the Chicago - Twin Cities service in such a way as to pick up all the major online communities is to satisfy nobody." But there's neither the funds nor the political will nor perhaps the economic justification for the full Illinois - Wisconsin - Minnesota network I suggested as a way of fixing the flaw. On the other hand, political wrangles to change the current west end to central Madison rather than the airport have the potential to stop the entire project, in much the same way that the wrangling over a Genoa (for DeKalb??) or Belvidere routing will have for the Chicago - Rockford - Dubuque service.

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