APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Efficient, money saving, potential boost to local economy.
These are the main reasons supporters want an Amtrak line that connects Green Bay, the Fox Cities and Milwaukee. The idea continues to catch on, but there is still a long way to go before it becomes a reality.
In downtown Appleton, the Wisconsin Association of Railroad Passengers held its spring meeting. A major topic of discussion was the possibility of an Amtrak line that would connect northeast Wisconsin to Milwaukee.
Last spring, Amtrak released a map of proposed new routes, and one of those routes was Northeast Wisconsin. It comes as President Joe Biden has committed money to rail infrastructure as part of his $2 trillion US jobs plan.
“Beginning in May, the federal government will solicit states and other government agencies and ask who wants their corridors added to a map of federal corridors that federal officials have created,” said Derrick James, director main Midwest for Amtrak.
The federal government will then announce funding opportunities for states and municipalities that want to add an Amtrak rail line in their jurisdiction. Interested parties will submit applications and must meet criteria created by the federal government.
“There’s a local matchmaking that’s required…the feds aren’t going to pay for the whole thing,” James said.
For now, it’s very early in the process. Any discussion of the final cost of this type of product or even a timeline is speculative. The process includes planning, engineering and environmental studies.
Local officials present at the meeting said that right now it was all about advocacy and getting more people involved in the project.
“Efficient, efficient and reliable mass transportation can take a bit of the burden off our infrastructure and, as gas gets more expensive, have cheaper ways to get around,” said Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford. .
Woodford also said having an Amtrak line would help tourism in northeast Wisconsin, which would help boost local economies.