Train saga rolls on

    GOP U.S. Reps. Tom Petri, Jim Sensenbrenner and Paul Ryan are calling for federal funds that Wisconsin and other states reject for high-speed rail to go toward reducing the nation’s debt and deficit.
    The three said in a statement that Wisconsin Governor-elect Scott Walker’s call to use the money designated for a high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee for highway and other infrastructure repairs is not allowed under the federal stimulus package. So they instead introduced legislation allowing unused rail money to go toward the federal debt and deficit.
    Walker was out of state this week at a Republican Governors Association meeting, but said in an interview with WISN’s Mike Gousha that he would be open to using the funds to upgrade the existing Hiawatha Line between Chicago and Milwaukee if it can’t be used on roads.
    Meanwhile, three transportation industry groups sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urging him to consider redirecting money earmarked for the line to other infrastructure needs.
    In the letter, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association and Wisconsin State Council of Carpenters asked that the money be used to upgrade the track, signals and trains sets for the existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago corridor.
    However, LaHood has said on several occasions that if Wisconsin rejected the proposed line, the money would be reallocated to rail projects elsewhere.

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