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 State for Investment in Infrastructure
- Posted on July 18, 2014
Acquisition Agreement for Purchase of Rail Line Good Thing for Counties; Economy
The Wisconsin Counties Association is commending the State of Wisconsin and Governor Walker for their actions in purchasing a 70-mile stretch of rail line from Madison to Reedsburg, as well as Reedsburg to Cottage Grove.
“Be it roads or rail, a strong investment in infrastructure is critical for the overall success of local communities and all of Wisconsin,” said WCA Executive Director Mark D. O’Connell. “Many businesses in our counties rely on freight rail for their success and the purchase of this segment of rail will help to strengthen and grow our economy here in the state.”
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) 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.
“A strong freight rail system is a key factor in supporting and growing Wisconsin’s economy,” noted Governor Walker. “This acquisition helps strengthen that system and further demonstrates the state’s commitment to freight rail, which many Wisconsin businesses depend on.”
According to WisDOT, the total cost of the purchase is $30 million with $5 million going toward track improvements and the other $25 million for land. The purchase is being made jointly with the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission (WRRTC) with funds from the Freight Rail Preservation Program.
“This is an issue that Sauk County, local communities and businesses have worked on for a very long time in my area,” said WCA 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 recognized that transportation infrastructure does not end at the Sauk County border and have collaborated with WisDot and Secretary Mark Gottleib, Columbia, Dodge and Dane Counties. I am thrilled to see this purchase moving forward and commend the State, Governor Walker and WisDOT for their work. It truly was a joint effort and are excited this is finally a reality.”
WisDOT stated that in 2013, 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.