The Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center has paid for a billboard along Interstate 94 west of Oconomowoc that criticizes Gov. Scott Walker for abandoning a high-speed rail line proposed for the corridor.
The group is also paying for a similar poster in the Milwaukee Amtrak station.
Center Executive Director Howard Learner said now that Congress has delayed action on the next major transportation bill until next year, Wisconsin can still get in on some federal funds to replace the high-speed rail funding Walker rejected almost four years ago.
“Whoever’s the governor of Wisconsin should want to be going to Congress to say ‘Let’s move on high speed rail and get it back on track in Wisconsin,’” said Learner.
Learner said Republicans in Michigan and Democrats in Illinois are moving ahead with high-speed rail projects, but if Walker remains governor of Wisconsin, it doesn't appear he'll be asking Congress to stretch faster rail across the state.
Walker has firmly stood behind his decision to abandon the rail project, which he says he did due to the high cost and because he didn’t believe ridership would have been very high. He described the project as a “boondoggle.”
“If anyone doubts that, look elsewhere around the country,” said Walker. “At the time, the big push was for California. California, I believe if my memory serves me right, has seen three times the cost explosion from the last four years, and they still don’t have a rail line.
The Environmental Law and Policy Center said Walker's focus should be on Midwest high speed rail.
The current billboard will be up for a couple of months, and another sign may follow it all the way until November.