The breach-of-contract litigation is over, and Wisconsin's Department of Transportation, at great expense, has no further obligation to take or to maintain the two trains.
Wisconsin taxpayers will end up paying $9.7 million more for two state of the art train sets — for a total of roughly $50 million — but leave the trains with their Spanish manufacturer, under the settlement of a nearly 3-year-old lawsuit.Wisconsin taxpayers are also on the hook for a new basketball arena and an upgrade -- running into many millions of dollars -- to the Zoo interchange, which, when upgraded, will not get basketball fans downtown any faster than they currently get there. Nor, for that matter, will Chicago - Milwaukee - Madison traffic get through there any more quickly. The benefit-cost ratio of the rail upgrade might well have been higher.
The settlement, which still needs to be approved in court, ends a political saga going back half a decade.
The bizarre and expensive outcome for Wisconsin — paying for a product but not keeping it or ever using it — reflects the depth of the political disagreement in which Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle signed, and then GOP presidential candidate and Gov. Scott Walker nixed, a no-bid contract with Talgo Inc. for trains from Madison to Milwaukee and then on to Chicago