Every autumn for the last 81 years, county officials from around the state have gathered at the Wisconsin Counties Association’s (WCA) Annual Conference...(read more)
WCA Commends Feds for Approval of Madison-Reedsburg Rail Line Purchase
- Posted on November 20, 2014
The Wisconsin Counties Association is commending last week's approval of a 70-mile stretch of rail line from Madison to Reedsburg, as well as Reedsburg to Cottage Grove, by the federal Surface Transportation Board.
“This decision to approve the rail line purchase will help strengthen not only the communities impacted, but also the entire state,” said WCA Executive Director Mark D. O'Connell. “Businesses in our counties rely on freight rail for their success and the purchase of this segment of rail will be help to grow our economy here in Wisconsin.”
The Wisconsin Surface Transportation Board signed an acquisition agreement July 11, 2014 for the purchase of the Madison to Reedsburg and Cottage Grove rail corridor from the Union Pacific Railroad (UP). This 70-mile rail line includes a bridge in the Village of Merrimac that goes over Lake Wisconsin.
In addition, the recent decision also gives Sauk County officials the opportunity to convert an unused rail corridor from Sauk City to the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area into a recreational trail.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), the total cost of the purchase was $30 million with $5 million going toward track improvements and the other $25 million for land. The purchase was made jointly with the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission (WRRTC) with funds from the Freight Rail Preservation Program.
“This has been an issue that Sauk County, local communities and businesses have worked on for a very long time in this part of the state,” said WCA Immediate Past President and Sauk County Board Chair Marty Krueger. “When you think about our transportation infrastructure--roads, rail, ports and airports--there is no doubt it is a major economic engine in our state.”
Krueger continued, “On this rail line issue, we have always known that transportation infrastructure does not end at the Sauk County border and have collaborated with WisDOT, Secretary Mark Gottlieb, Columbia, Dodge and Dane Counties. I am excited to see this purchase finalized and commend the State, Governor Walker and WisDOT for their work. It was a true collaboration and we are thrilled this is finally wrapped up.”
WisDOT stated that in 2013, Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Company (WSOR) transported 5,070 cars on the Madison to Reedsburg and Cottage Grove line, serving 23 active customers including: United Coop, Landmark Ag, Seneca Foods, R.R. Donnelly, Hanke, Greede Foundries, and Hydrite Chemical. Commodities transported include grain, chemicals, polymers, paper, food products, lumber, aggregate and metal.