Overpasses: A love story

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Overpasses: A love story

Postby Chava » July 22nd, 2015, 9:32 am

Overpasses: A love story
Thought this might be of interest 'round these parts. Not sure if this is a suitable place for this article.
http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/20 ... 53?hp=t2_r

Posts: 2750
Joined: June 4th, 2012, 6:30 pm
Location: Saint Paul

Re: Overpasses: A love story

Postby mulad » July 22nd, 2015, 10:38 am

Just this morning as I was coming into work, I was mulling over an old idea of contacting cities and counties along the current Empire Builder route between the Twin Cities and Chicago to try and get them to feed relatively small shares of money to MnDOT, Amtrak, etc. to try and jumpstart service without waiting for the states (primarily for the second daily train, but possibly for extra service). Someone needs a strong kick to the posterior and/or groin to motivate them to move forward, without having to wait for the next legislative session to come around. But irrational anti-rail and anti-transit politics could easily make the idea backfire.

I started blogging about trains and transit as it was beginning to look like we'd finally build something between the Twin Cities and Milwaukee/Chicago, among other places across the country, but the conservative wave in 2010 just caused everything to fall to pieces. I've always felt the need to point out that Jim Doyle really initiated the pullout of rail improvement funds days after the election that year, before Scott Walker took office in Wisconsin. Maybe that was an appropriate move, as Walker (like other candidates in states with similar rail funding grants) wanted to try and take the rail money and put it to highways instead. I think the feds were able to get back all of their money and redistribute it to places that wanted it, but that was just a bizarre episode of history.

Walker even tried to get some money from the feds in a later cycle in order to avoid having the state fulfill its obligations, but ended up being denied.

As much as I'd like to point fingers at Wisconsin, we haven't done that great in Minnesota either. Our state was late to get interested in rail (perhaps due to Pawlenty being in office), so we started to look into it just as the political situation flipped across the border. We have our own baffling megaproject with the St. Croix River Crossing near Stillwater, and I just can't wrap my head around the Vikings stadium either.

The best estimate I have for adding 6x daily 110-mph "HSR" trains between the Twin Cities and Chicago (in addition to one Empire Builder and probably one extra daily train) is about $2 billion. Every study I've seen suggests that this service would operate at a surplus, but who the hell knows. Take a slice out of some of these megaprojects and it would be pretty easy to assemble the cash, especially since the feds would probably be able to fund a big chunk of it. But whatever, the studies are languishing. We were supposed to be starting construction by now (and I'm sure if you go back further, it should have been up and running by now...).

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