From: Leone J. Mauszycki
This is a bonding year at the state legislature and the future of the Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago second round trip passenger train will perhaps be determined this year 2020. After years of planning, this important transportation option that will serve our communities along the Mississippi River could receive state funding. It is imperative to have all citizens supporting this effort letting our legislators know just how important this service will be for all of us.
Governor Walz has included $10 million in his bonding request to the legislature to provide Minnesota’s share of the cost to upgrade track and begin the service. The Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago Second Train would operate between Saint Paul and Chicago at a maximum speed of 79 mph, using the existing CP freight tracks. It will serve Winona and all the other cities the Empire Builder serves, plus two more in Wisconsin. It is projected to carry 155,000 riders annually. The TCMC Second Train will create jobs, generate economic growth, improve mobility, and provide for infrastructure additions that increase freight rail capacity and improve additional safety measures for both passenger rail and freight. The TCMC Train will be relaxing, comfortable, WiFi productive, and an affordable alternative to driving or flying. It will provide increased access to our arts, festivals or cultural events, natural beauty and athletic/sports or tourist attractions. The train will also support our university students, faculty, and staff, as well as our business travelers along with the general population in search of an additional transportation option. The train is environmentally friendly with few toxic emissions compared to either automobiles or air travel. The state bond funds are critical for this added transportation service to our state.
Wisconsin Governor Evers and the Wisconsin DOT are requesting $10 million for their project share. Illinois has also committed support. Together these state funds will be used to match future federal grants for the final design and construction of track, signals and siding improvements to accommodate the second train without affecting freight traffic. Winona will directly benefit, approximately $16.9 million will be spent extending and upgrading a siding track, installing new signals at CK Tower and upgrading the alignment of a “station track” and improve the platform at the Winona depot. The second train project includes an additional $13.8 million for track and switch improvements at the River Junction near La Crescent. These improvements will enhance safety, accessibility, and help to ensure that the second train is reliably on time.
I want you to vote with your fingers, take action, and call or write to your senator, representative, and governor. Please tell them to support Governor Walz’s bonding request for $10 million for the TCMC Second Train. We need everyone to support this funding request.