Obama administration taking $1.2 billion in rail money - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Obama administration taking back $1.2 billion in high-speed rail money


By Capitol Bureau Chief Bob Schaper - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- He said he would kill it... and he did. Gov.-elect Scott Walker succeeds in ending Wisconsin's high-speed rail project.

The official announcement came on Thursday from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation which said it will take Wisconsin and Ohio's money - a combined $1.195 billion - and shift it to other states.

"I mentioned this repeatedly in the campaign that if push came to shove, even if it went to another state, it was preferable to the taxpayers of the state being fixed with a bill that far exceeded our ability to pay," Walker told reporters in Pewaukee.

All year Walker has talked about his goal of shifting the money to roads and bridges, a possibility that is now closed to the state. Of the $810 million allocated to Wisconsin only $2 million will be retained to help make improvements to the Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago.

The rest goes to California, Florida, Washington state and others.

"I'm certainly disappointed that the Obama administration saw fit to send the money elsewhere," Walker said.

Gov. Jim Doyle, a rail supporter, said the news was "tragic," and that Wisconsin was now at the "back of the line."

"If this is an indication of how Scott Walker is going to run his administration, I think we're in for a very long four years," Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said. "He's got to understand he's the governor of the whole state and all the people, not just a couple of radio hosts in Milwaukee."

Cieslewicz called this a "black day" for Madison, but said there's hope for the future.

"They ought to keep hope alive for a route through Wisconsin and through Madison," he said. "Now, it obviously isn't going to happen until Scott Walker is former-Gov. Scott Walker - that day can't come too soon - the guy hasn't even taken office yet, as far as I'm concerned."

Meanwhile, Walker said the state would not be on the hook for any money already spent.

"I talked to Sec. LaHood today," Walker said. "He assured me that the cost would not be paid back. The bottom line is we're not going to have to repay it."


WASHINGTON -- U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that $1.195 billion in high-speed rail funds originally designated for Wisconsin and Ohio will be redirected to other states eager to develop high-speed rail corridors across the United States. Wisconsin has suspended work under its existing high-speed rail agreement and the incoming Governors in Wisconsin and Ohio have both indicated that they will not move forward to use high-speed rail money received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  As a result, $1.195 billion will be redirected to high-speed rail projects already underway in other states.

"High-speed rail will modernize America's valuable transportation network, while reinvigorating the manufacturing sector and putting people back to work in good-paying jobs," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "I am pleased that so many other states are enthusiastic about the additional support they are receiving to help bring America's high-speed rail network to life."

The Recovery Act included $8 billion to launch a national high-speed rail program that will modernize America's transportation network, spur economic development domestically and keep the U.S. competitive with other leading nations. High-speed rail grants announced under the Recovery Act can be used only for high-speed rail projects and not for other transportation projects.

Last year, the Obama Administration received a commitment from 30 domestic and foreign rail manufacturers to establish or expand their base of operations in the United States if selected for contracts building America's high-speed rail network. These rail manufacturers and suppliers committed to not only locate in the U.S., but to ensure high-speed rail projects are built by American workers with American-made supplies. To deliver maximum economic benefits to American taxpayers, the Administration's high-speed rail program also includes a 100 percent ‘Buy American' requirement.

Under the Recovery Act, the Federal Railroad Administration originally announced $810 million for Wisconsin's Milwaukee-Madison corridor and $400 million for Ohio's Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland "3C" route. The Federal Railroad Administration will redirect $810 million from Wisconsin and $385 million from Ohio, and will work with these states to determine whether they have already spent money under their contracts that should be reimbursed.

The $1.195 billion originally designated for those high-speed rail projects in Wisconsin and Ohio will now be used to support projects in the following states:

  • California: up to $624 million
  • Florida: up to $342.3 million
  • Washington State: up to $161.5 million
  • Illinois: up to $42.3 million
  • New York: up to $7.3 million
  • Maine: up to $3.3 million
  • Massachusetts: up to $2.8 million
  • Vermont: up to $2.7 million
  • Missouri up to $2.2 million
  • Wisconsin: up to $2 million for the Hiawatha line
  • Oregon: up to $1.6 million
  • North Carolina: up to $1.5 million
  • Iowa: up to $309,080
  • Indiana: up to $364,980WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congressional sources say the Obama administration is taking $1.2 billion in high-speed rail money away from Ohio and Wisconsin and awarding it to projects in other states.

27 News Continuing Coverage:

Madison residents offer input on high-speed rail station (June 23, 2010)

High-speed rail myths: Officials hold public meeting to explain the facts (May 12, 2010)

State Rep. Davis introduces bill to block spending on a high-speed train (March 30, 2010)

Committee approves high speed rail funding (Feb. 16, 2010)

Advocates hail Madison-to-Milwaukee rail corridor (Jan. 28, 2010)

The future of high speed rail in the state (Jan. 28, 2010)

Madison Mayor reacts to news of high speed rail funding (Jan. 28, 2010)

Dane County Board votes on creation of RTA (Nov. 05, 2009)

Officials make RTA appointments, stress need for referendum (Dec. 04, 2009)

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