Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Madison proposes high-speed travel

In an effort to turn Madison into a more cosmopolitan, fast-paced city, urban and transportation planners met with the public Monday to discuss options for a high-speed rail station downtown.

Nearly 40 people, from interested citizens to city staffers, met at the Meriter Terrace, 345 West Main St., to view potential plans for an inter-city rail to be built in conjunction with Amtrak.

Three main proposals, although preliminary, exist for the proposed passenger station. One possibility is a Monona Terrace station; another is the West Washington Avenue depot area — more specifically, the Kohl Center — and the last in the Paterson Street area.

City planners admit they are in the preliminary stages of organizing and development.

“All these plans are ballpark; there is still a realm of possibilities,” Madison transportation planner Dave Trowbridge said.
Potential plans would link Madison with cities such as Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The potential routes would consist of only “dead-end” trains, or trains where all passengers exit at the final destination and the train returns to its original departure point.

City planners are investigating main issues involving each proposed station, including its proximity to downtown and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, accessibility for automobiles and pedestrians, and disruption to neighborhoods from train exhaust and noise.

Some sites have more advantages than others when considering these options, planners said.

“All the sites have an array of problems,” city planner Archie Nicolette said, “but the Kohl Center is a very prime site.”

Planners said the Kohl Center site has room surrounding it for not only parking options, but also other developments UW is interested in discussing.
Rough estimates for the Kohl Center station are around $7-8 million. A Monona Terrace site would cost approximately $7-10 million, and Paterson Street may cost $3.5-4 million.

Many Madison residents are concerned with developmental costs of the station and wonder if the project is necessary when buses and airplanes are available.

LeAnna Wall, District Department of Transportation project manager, said a high-speed rail would be an effective mode of transportation for many reasons.
“Since the tragedies in this country and the troubles with airlines, there has been a tremendous resurgence with high-speed rail systems in the U.S.,” Wall said.

A potential timetable for the high-speed rail is as early as fall 2003, which would include the Milwaukee to Madison rail with a downtown Madison station.
However, that timetable appears unrealistic at this point.
“Anything is possible,” Wall said. “Fall 2003 is not out of the question, but it would be a challenge.”

Wall said two main issues, environmental processes and available funds, will most affect the timetable.

Many residents seem to agree that a high-speed rail system would improve Madison.

“All sites would benefit; none would detract from Madison,” one resident said.

The 600-foot trains would travel at 110 miles per hour, making a trip from downtown Madison to downtown Chicago approximately two hours long.
A roundtrip passenger ticket from Madison to Chicago would cost $80.

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