The Brookfield News reported today on the City of Brookfield's submitting a plan for a high speed rail (HSR) station in the Old Village area on Brookfield Road. BN 8/3/09 “Brookfield pushes for high-speed rail station” Ald. Mahkorn and I were given a detailed briefing on this a couple of weeks ago since the proposed station lies in the 5th district.
HSR was a topic of the Board of Public Works (BPW) meeting of July 14, 2009 in the context of reviewing the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. The official BPW meeting minutes have not been approved yet so they are not available online, but it was reported in the Brookfield News. BN 7/21/09 “Rail, I-94 interchange dominate transportation future”
The 2035 Comprehensive Plan Task Force also discussed it as their meeting of June 10, 2009. Quoting from the minutes of that meeting:
“The discussion moved to high speed rail. Mr. Roffers noted that plans are underway to move forward with the Midwest Rail Initiative which has been prioritized by the federal administration. This region is competing with other regions for funds to implement this project. Mr. Gilmore made a motion to remove 4. Mr. Weller seconded. Ms. Donze noted that it is inevitable and that the City needs to support it. There was a discussion about the difference between light rail and high speed intercity rail. The second was withdrawn.
There was a motion to retain recommendation 4 – supporting High-Speed Passenger Rail by Ms. Winberg and seconded by Mr. Marcello.
In Favor: Moon, Donze, Clappier Gennrich, Winberg, Marcello, Sauer, Becker, Weller, Aprahamian, Taipala.
It is also described in:
- 2035 Final Vision Report, pages 9, 19, 25, 27, 35, 46 and 47. The final report will include much more detail and will be available by October.
- Village Area Vision drawings
- 2035 Vision Open House Presentation pages 16-17, 22, 30, 31, 35, 43, 44 and 50.
While the project is dramatic and will no doubt be highly controversial, I don't believe there's much that is new or surprising. Brookfield has had railroad tracks for well over a century and midwest high speed rail service was first discussed over 15 years ago.
I support a thorough public discussion on this in the context of community planning (2035 report), economic development potential and city financial planning. There is an endless list of details that have to be worked out to make this a success and many of them have to be ironed out even if the city chooses not to participate with a station.
My personal view is that it's a project that's worth discussing, that it would have a deep impact on the city, especially in the Old Village area, and that it will be a political football in the upcoming April, 2010 election. Until I learn a few more details, especially on cost and economic impact, I neither endorse nor oppose the proposal. I expect to devote a considerable amount of my time to it in the coming months.
For more information, see:
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation on Midwest Regional Rail System Note the Blue Ribbon Task force appointed by Gov. Thompson (R) in March, 1999 issued this February, 2001 report Also, see the 2004 report on this concept.