Wisconsin residents have the chance to weigh in on a proposal that would add a second Amtrak route linking Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Members of the public have until April 9 to submit their two cents on the "Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Intercity Passenger Rail Service." The proposal would add a second daily round-trip passenger train on the 411-mile corridor between Chicago and the Twin Cities, via Milwaukee.
The proposed service would be in addition to Amtrak's Empire Builder route that currently links the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.
Meanwhile, a resolution is being proposed in the Milwaukee Common Council that expresses the city's support for the proposal. That resolution headed to the Public Works Committee Wednesday.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says the $53-million project would "improve mobility and increase reliable travel options" between the cities.
It would also improve connections to many rural communities and for those who are traveling long distances without their own vehicle, WisDOT argues.
The project is funded using a $31.8 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration and $5 million from Amtrak. WisDOT says another $6.2 million from Wisconsin and $10 million from Minnesota is needed to fund the project.
WisDOT says the money is worth spending as more than 70 percent of on and off-boardings at Wisconsin stations are to or from stations within the TCMC corridor between the Twin Cities and Chicago.
The service would operate at speeds of 79 miles per hour and stop at all existing stations on the Empire Builder route, plus the Milwaukee Airport Rail Station.
Construction would begin in 2023 or 2024, with service starting two years after that.