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Walker announces $25 million in freight rail upgrades

Gov. Scott Walker has announced 11 state awards totaling $25,515,123 that will be used to build freight rail-related facilities, and preserve and upgrade rail infrastructure.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is administering six loan awards for $4,922,452 through the Freight Railroad Infrastructure Improvement Program.

Five grant awards in the amount of $20,592,671 are being distributed through the state’s Freight Railroad Preservation Program. FRPP grants cover up to 80 percent of the cost of projects designed to preserve rail service or rehabilitate fixed facilities on publicly owned rail lines.

Twelve freight railroads operate in the state on a system of over 3,600 route miles of track and handle some 2.5 million rail cars each year, according to a new release from WisDOT.

With the help of the grants:

• WisDOT will be acquiring 3.61 miles of railroad track in Milwaukee from the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad. The line will be acquired to preserve it for railroad use. WisDOT plans to provide 100 percent of the money for the land, and 80 percent of the value of the track and improvements for a total WisDOT contribution of $2,200,000.

• Bridge rehabilitation and replacement: The Wisconsin & Southern Railroad will receive a total of $3,647,149 in grant money to cover 80 percent of costs for emergency rehabilitation and reconstruction work on system bridges in Rock, Dane and Green counties. A WisDOT loan of $455,894 will also be provided to cover 10 percent of the project costs. The remaining 10 percent, $455,894, will be provided by the WSOR. Total project cost will be $4,558,937.

• Wausaukee to Niagara track rehabilitation: The Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad will receive $4,423,413 in grant money to cover 80 percent of the costs of track rehabilitation between Wausaukee and Niagara in Marinette County. WisDOT will provide another $552,926 in the form of a loan to cover one-half of the 20 percent local match. The remaining 10 percent, or $552,926, will be provided by the E&LS. Total project cost will be $5,529,265.

• Madison to Milton phase II track rehabilitation: The Wisconsin & Southern Railroad will receive an additional $8,867,515 in grant money to pay for 80 percent of the total $11,084,393 remaining costs of Phase II rehabilitation work on the Madison to Milton rail line in Dane and Rock counties. WisDOT will also give WSOR a loan of $1,108,439 to cover 10 percent of the cost of the work. The remaining 10 percent of $1,108,439 will be provided by WSOR and the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission.

• Waukesha track rehabilitation: The Wisconsin & Southern Railroad will receive a grant of $1,454,594 to cover 80 percent of the $1,818,243 total cost of rehabilitate 1.8 miles of rail line in the Waukesha area. The remaining 20 percent of $363,649 will be provided by the WSOR.

• A $1,746,949 loan has been approved to construct extensions to the existing rail spur tracks, a one million bushel capacity grain storage bin and conveying equipment at the Zenda Grain LLC facility.

• A $868,970 loan is approved to construct a rail scale, 466,000 bushel capacity grain storage bin, related conveying equipment and rotary grain samplers at the Millard Grain LLC facility.

• A $189,274 loan is approved to construct a concrete grain rail dump pit and related conveying equipment for unloading incoming railcars carrying a variety of products from grains to bio-fuel components at Duffy Grain.


  1. How is it that we can do these repairs and updates and we can’t pay teachers and other public workers?

  2. Barb—I’ll put you down for an extra $10,000 donation/tax contribution. Perhaps we should open the prisons up so we can pay teachers even more. Never mind Jim Doyle already did that. How about limit infrastructure improvements and take the gasoline tax to pay teachers more. Been there done that. How about taxing the smokers, the rich and those evil corporations more OR forget paying Minnesota the reciprocal taxes we owe them OR “borrow” money from the fund set up to help with medical malpractice claims OR ……..ask teachers to pay 12 % of healthcare (with lavish retirement health benefits still available at age 57) and 5% of wages to help fund their retirement .

    When is Enough Enough ??

  3. That $25,515,123 is all coming out of our general treasury, every penny.

    With our forever-lost $810 million high-speed rail grant that the bumbling Scott Walker handed over to dozens of other states, that would have been included and paid for. The Milwaukee Amtrak Station rehabbing would also have been paid for, and soon, we’ll be getting the bill for that as well.

    Ah, Wisconsin …

  4. Two things:

    1.) I have not seen the plan, but I would bet that the freight rail money will not all be spent on the limited line between Milwaukee and Madison, thus much of this money would had to of been spent even if HSR had been approved.

    2.) Even if it did only apply to Milwaukee to Madison, the 25 million could be paid back in 3 1/2 years with the $7.5 million per year savings from not supplementing the HSR out of Wisconsin’s general fund.

    Smart approach IMO.

  5. I am so tired of hearing teacher whine. Get over it. It has no place in this discussion.

  6. Irwin–you are right on. How about some Wisconsin Sargento cheese to go with that teacher w(h)ine ?

  7. Somebody should do an investigation of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad campaign contributions to “Diamond Jim Doyle”! “Diamond Jim” handed them almost 2 Million in Grants for a radio system to dispatch and contact their trains a few years ago. So, now Gardner has thrown money bags at Scott Walker, and the corporate welfare continues ‘down the track’ on the backs of the Wisconsin taxpayer!

  8. Walker’s name is beginning to STINK like a DEAD FISH! He runs on a platform to balance the budget and eliminate the 3.6 BILLION dollar deficit by cutting spending. Giving away 25 Million to a convicted felon’s puny railroad is like rewarding someone for breaking the law!

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