Return of the Morning Hiawatha?

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Return of the Morning Hiawatha?
Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, January 20, 2019 9:00 PM

So I read somewhere that Minnesota is officially tabling the High Speed Rail proposal to Chicago and put the blame on Wisconsin.    They further stated that there is no other viable route other than through Wisconsin.    The good news is they seem to want to keep pushing on a secondary RT that departs St. Paul and Chicago in the morning for each respective city arriving in the afternoon.    Allegedly they are still in talks with Wisconsin over funding that train which is currently pegged at approx $160-200 million in startup costs (most will come from Feds they say).    If the discussions bear fruit and they can get their assessment on costs, improvements and funding approved between the states they want the service to start in 2022.

I think I read on the ILDOT website or some Illinois sponsored site on Amtrak.  METRA and ILDOT are looking at costs for a third track siding between Glenview and Northbrook, IL to support expanded Chicago to Milwaukee trains.   Meanwhile Glenview has paid $400,000 for a consulting firm to assess if a siding is needed or if some other approach could keep trains moving versus using a siding.   Will be interesting how that all turns out.

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 7:15 AM

The current political atmosphere in Wisconsin is not conducive to supporting a second CHI-MSP round trip to complement the "Empire Builder".  Also, the infighting that pretty much killed off a Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison train left a sour taste with a lot of people about so-called HSR projects.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 7:53 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
The current political atmosphere in Wisconsin is not conducive to supporting a second CHI-MSP round trip to complement the "Empire Builder".  Also, the infighting that pretty much killed off a Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison train left a sour taste with a lot of people about so-called HSR projects.

Outsider looking in - Wisconsin state politics has left a sour taste with the rest of the country after the mid-terms.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 10:29 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
The current political atmosphere in Wisconsin is not conducive to supporting a second CHI-MSP round trip to complement the "Empire Builder".  Also, the infighting that pretty much killed off a Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison train left a sour taste with a lot of people about so-called HSR projects.

Apparently WisDOT didn't get the memo....

Here is a draft of the WisDOT funding request to the FRA and it is dated SFY2019.    It is quoted verbatium below:

"For informational purposes, only

Intercity Passenger Rail Projects

Several Federal Railroad Administration Program funded projects have been identified in studies of two existing intercity passenger rail corridors, and are eligible for federal funding for final design and construction.

In addition, WisDOT has submitted federal discretionary grant applications under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) and Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) programs in SFY 2018 and SFY 2019 for three passenger rail projects that, if awarded, could begin in SFY 2019.

Studies with projects identified:

1) Adding one to three additional daily round-trip frequencies between Milwaukee and Chicago on the Hiawatha Service in cooperation with the State of Illinois. The project would involve final design (SFY 2019 – 2021) and construction (SFY 2020 – 2022), pending completion of the Environmental Assessment and Service Development Plan (completion SFY 2019).

a) Projects in Wisconsin identified in the Environmental Assessment and Service Development Plan to accommodate the additional round-trip frequencies (capital costs provided are rounded preliminary estimates):

i) Muskego Yard signalization and track/bridge improvements (Milwaukee):

$24 million - $60 million

ii) Milwaukee Airport Rail Station second platform with overhead access (Milwaukee): $10.1 million

iii) CTC signalization between Milwaukee Intermodal Station and Cutoff (Milwaukee): $5.4 million

2) Adding one new state-supported intercity passenger rail frequency between Chicago and the Twin Cities on the Amtrak Empire Builder corridor. This is a Minnesota-led effort to complete a required NEPA study, which includes a environmental clearance and preliminary engineering, in SFY2019.

a) Based on the results of the NEPA study, the next steps could be Final Design (SFY 2020) and construction (SFY 2021 – 2022) of infrastructure improvements identified in the NEPA study. Infrastructure improvements in Wisconsin include:

i) Rebuild Second CP Rail Main Track to the west and east of the La Crosse Amtrak Depot and extend La Crosse CP Rail Yard Lead West

ii) Extend existing 15,000 foot CP Rail siding at Medary, WI approximately 13,000 feet. Install universal crossover at existing Medary East

iii) Install universal crossover on existing CP Rail double track section west of Columbus Station

2019 – 2022 Draft Statewide Transportation Improvement Program 6 – 3

Final Design and Construction Projects:

At the time of publication of the STIP, there were several grant applications submitted by WisDOT to the U.S. Department of Transportation for final design and construction of passenger rail improvements. If awarded, these would be obligated in SFY2019. The applications were for the following three projects.

1) Milwaukee Airport Rail Station second platform with overhead access (Milwaukee):

$10.1 million

2) CTC signalization between Milwaukee Intermodal Station and Cutoff (Milwaukee):

$5.4 million

3) Acquisition of three cab-coach cars and six coach cars for the Amtrak Hiawatha Service:

$38.9 million

Potential additional federal grant applications to be submitted in SFY2019, with obligation in SFY2019 or SFY2020:

1) Muskego Yard signalization and track/bridge improvements (Milwaukee):

$60 million

Federal funding sources include, but are not limited to, the following grant programs:

• Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA)

• Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI)

• Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD)

• Federal-States Partnership for State of Good Repair"

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Posted by Kevin C. Smith on Monday, February 11, 2019 1:17 AM

BaltACD
Outsider looking in - Wisconsin state politics has left a sour taste with the rest of the country after the mid-terms.



It left a much better taste within the state. We just have to finish spitting out the rest. It is sadly too late to get MKE-MAD service on such good terms as offered before, but hopefully, the process can begin again. With any luck, we can get some action going on the 2nd CHI-MSP train, and-ideally-KRM expansion, too. Western Wisconsin has been looking at expanded service to the Twin Cities, and Milwaukke-Green Bay has been missing from Amtrak for WAY too long.

A lot of projects to keep working on but we gain nothing by delays.

"Look at those high cars roll-finest sight in the world."
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Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, February 11, 2019 12:37 PM

Kevin C. Smith
It left a much better taste within the state. We just have to finish spitting out the rest. It is sadly too late to get MKE-MAD service on such good terms as offered before, but hopefully, the process can begin again. With any luck, we can get some action going on the 2nd CHI-MSP train, and-ideally-KRM expansion, too. Western Wisconsin has been looking at expanded service to the Twin Cities, and Milwaukke-Green Bay has been missing from Amtrak for WAY too long. A lot of projects to keep working on but we gain nothing by delays.

Just an update, not sure if you saw the Trains Newswire article on FRA funding.  Wisconsin did get FRA funds to fix the Mitchel field Airport Depot and will finally get a Western Boarding platform with pedestrian bridge over the tracks to reach it.    This was one of CP's preconditions that had to be fixed before they could bump up to 10 RT a day between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Right now they are waiting on the outcome of the METRA, IDOT and Glenview, IL discussions on how they are going to handle the need that CP asked for there of an additional holding track on the UP Line.   Should have that answer by Summer I expect.    Once that hurdle is cleared it's just a matter of getting the funds to complete.

Minnesota is pushing the second train frequency between Chicago and St. Paul more than WisDOT but WisDOT is onboard with any jointly funded improvements to the line so they are currently supportive of the project.

I think the Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison line would have been a boondoggle under Doyle and still feel that way.    They need more time to think about that, in my view.   One area that really concerned me about the project was the arguing back and forth where to put the Madison Depot.     I think it should be downtown with perhaps a stop at the airport as well like they do in Milwaukee.   I don't think it should be either / or.............which is what they were arguing over.    The other problem is the designated high speed line across Wisconsin is through Columbus NOT through Madison.   If they wanted to change that they should have amended the plan with the larger Midwest HSR compact.    It throws Minnesota for a loop if Wisconsin can't stick to what was argreed on for a rail route and keeps changing the route based on political winds in Madison.

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Posted by zardoz on Thursday, February 14, 2019 12:11 PM

What do you want from a state where the legislature is so clueless. From the AP:

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Senate refused to mention NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a resolution honoring Black History Month passed Wednesday, rejecting calls from Democrats who said ignoring the Milwaukee native put them on the wrong side of history.

https://thetandd.com/sports/football/professional/article_daf0289e-c682-54e0-bf96-df1e13d6902f.html

It is even more of a insult in that Kaepernick is from Fond du Lac, WI.

   

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Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, February 14, 2019 7:09 PM

zardoz

What do you want from a state where the legislature is so clueless. From the AP:

Republicans who control the Wisconsin Senate refused to mention NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a resolution honoring Black History Month passed Wednesday, rejecting calls from Democrats who said ignoring the Milwaukee native put them on the wrong side of history.

https://thetandd.com/sports/football/professional/article_daf0289e-c682-54e0-bf96-df1e13d6902f.html

It is even more of a insult in that Kaepernick is from Fond du Lac, WI.

Nah, they did the right thing by ignoring him.   

He hasn't really accomplished anything other than playing for the NFL........is that something notable?    Also, personal risk defines courage.    What was the personal risk of his protest?     He wasn't really risking his career which was on the downside at the time of his protests.    It wasn't anything near a risky move, in my view.

Of course the Democrats are going to use the race card at every opportunity.    However, they are not even enforcing affirmative action anymore.    The CREATE project in Chicago was partially intended on being a type of apprenticeship to train the folks in the same neighborhoods the projects were executed in.   Did that even happen?   See any press releases to that effect?    Less than 100 miles away from Milwaukee and you can see the hypocrisy of those that throw stones in a glass house.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, February 17, 2019 2:55 PM

charlie hebdo

 

I am really surprised at the turn about in Wisconsin especially the DOT towards Amtrak.    I think credit really goes to the former Democratic Mayor of Milwaukee John Norquist.   The current Democratic Mayor of Milwaukee is also an Amtrak promoter.    But I have to say I am surprised how fast they are moving on the Hiawatha service, they have already landed a Federal Grant to enhance the Airport Station stop to specs that CP Railway wanted before they agreed to an increase in Amtrak train frequency.   Can't believe they landed the money so quick.

On the second frequency to MN also surprised at the grass roots support for it which seems to be growing.    When I lived in the state you couldn't convince anyone that increased passenger train frequencies would help vs hurt the state and it's Economic development.    

Though one item bothers me, I went home for Christmas and it seemed everyone was ripping apart the downtown Milwaukee trolley as a boondoggle bacause some right wing radio personality cut into it (Charlie Sykes).   Never liked Sykes and I think he is about as bright as Sean Hannity which isn't saying much.   Anyways, all my cousins and some of siblings were telling me how the trolley would get stuck in the snow, how it was a waste of money, nobody would use ,it    Blah, blah, blah.   Luckily for me I am in charge of the Family Reunion this year and can use that as a platform to brainwash everyone back to support rail transit (ha-ha).

Seriously though I had to point out the trolley goes way back to Mayer Maier who was against the downtown freeway splitting the city North-South and wanted towards the end of his term some sort of light rail.   Then Norquist pushed it hard but ran into stiff opposition.   The current mayor rammed it through on a spending bill while nobody seemed to be paying attention.    Thank goodness he did otherwise Milwaukee would still be talking about weather to do a trolley or not.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, February 17, 2019 3:47 PM

CMStPnP
 
charlie hebdo

I am really surprised at the turn about in Wisconsin especially the DOT towards Amtrak.    I think credit really goes to the former Democratic Mayor of Milwaukee John Norquist.   The current Democratic Mayor of Milwaukee is also an Amtrak promoter.    But I have to say I am surprised how fast they are moving on the Hiawatha service, they have already landed a Federal Grant to enhance the Airport Station stop to specs that CP Railway wanted before they agreed to an increase in Amtrak train frequency.   Can't believe they landed the money so quick.

On the second frequency to MN also surprised at the grass roots support for it which seems to be growing.    When I lived in the state you couldn't convince anyone that increased passenger train frequencies would help vs hurt the state and it's Economic development.    

Though one item bothers me, I went home for Christmas and it seemed everyone was ripping apart the downtown Milwaukee trolley as a boondoggle bacause some right wing radio personality cut into it (Charlie Sykes).   Never liked Sykes and I think he is about as bright as Sean Hannity which isn't saying much.   Anyways, all my cousins and some of siblings were telling me how the trolley would get stuck in the snow, how it was a waste of money, nobody would use ,it    Blah, blah, blah.   Luckily for me I am in charge of the Family Reunion this year and can use that as a platform to brainwash everyone back to support rail transit (ha-ha).

Seriously though I had to point out the trolley goes way back to Mayer Maier who was against the downtown freeway splitting the city North-South and wanted towards the end of his term some sort of light rail.   Then Norquist pushed it hard but ran into stiff opposition.   The current mayor rammed it through on a spending bill while nobody seemed to be paying attention.    Thank goodness he did otherwise Milwaukee would still be talking about weather to do a trolley or not.

The 'Anti's' on any big infrastructure item generally have the upper hand - in that the item is generally big enough that it won't be completed 'overnight', the item is generally localized enough that the 'I won't be able to use it' argument can be played and then the NIMBY and BANANA's get involved. 

If the NIMBY's and BANANA's had carried the day - mankind would still be cave bound.  It is rare enough that there is political foresight to see forthcoming needs and then be able to turn that into actions and results - without it, however, the world would be nowhere.  The general population, in their payday to payday world generally can't raise their sights high enough to contemplate the future.

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Posted by bill613a on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 8:57 PM

An OTB suggestion.  Use the two Wisconsin Talgos and run them Fargo to Chicago departing each end point in the mid morning.

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