The mayors of a handful of Fox Valley cities and Green Bay have written a letter to the federal government expressing support for an Amtrak railroad route from Milwaukee to Green Bay.
Hopes for the project ride on funds for passenger rail expansion under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which President Joe Biden signed 14 months ago.
City leaders wrote in a letter filed Dec. 15 to the Federal Railroad Administration to incorporate Green Bay and the Fox Valley region in the Corridor Identification and Development Program and added the new route would build on the currently existing Amtrak Hiawatha Line between Milwaukee and Chicago. Signing the letter were mayors from Appleton, Green Bay, Kaukauna, Menasha, Neenah, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac.
“A Green Bay-Milwaukee-Chicago Amtrak service would create new connections between major metropolitan cities, medium-sized cities, and colleges and universities,” the letter said. “Students, their families, faculty, and staff will be able to take advantage of frequent Amtrak service to avoid traffic between destinations and to enjoy greater productivity or relaxation while they travel.”
An extension to the Hiawatha line would serve seven communities and increase mobility options between Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, and Fox Valley, the third largest metropolitan area, city leaders added.
It would take a passenger train 4 hours, 20 minutes to cross the entire Chicago-Milwaukee-Green Bay Amtrak route, a report from Amtrak showed. In another Amtrak “vision,” the company would set up stations in Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Appleton and Green Bay.
Adding to the rail network would address traffic congestion and transportation inequity, Amtrak said. In Milwaukee, traffic deaths surged in 2020 despite less people driving during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the average Chicago resident spent 145 hours in traffic and spent over $2,000 on gas in 2019, a report by INRIX showed. Green Bay officials pushed for the South Bridge Connector Project in De Pere to manage traffic congestion, but costs are between $35 million and $45 million, landing beyond Brown County’s forecasted budget, The Press Times reported.
The federal government established the corridor identification program with the signing of BIL, and the law includes $66 billion in additional rail funding. The money would bring rail service to areas outside the northeast and Mid-Atlantic, the White House said in a statement.