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GOP Governors-elect Trying to Kill High-Speed Rail Jobs


November 18, 2010

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Incoming Republican governors in Ohio and Wisconsin struck a blow against jobs for their residents by vowing to kill $1.2 billion in funding for high-speed rail in their states.

The funding, part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was meant to create high-speed rail links connecting Milwaukee and Madison and Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Ohio Governor-elect John Kasich told supporters at his election night victory party:

Passenger rail is not in Ohio’s future … That train is dead.

President Obama pledged more than $8 billion in high-speed rail grants early last year to revamp our nation’s aged infrastructure and to create tens of thousands of new jobs in construction, manufacturing and maintenance.

A new rail line in Illinois, for example, is predicted to create an initial 40,000 construction jobs according to the Midwest High Speed Rail Authority. Stimulus money is also helping Amtrak modernize its facilities, putting IBEW members back to work up and down the East Coast.

For Milwaukee Local 494 Business Manager Dan Large, Wisconsin governor-elect Scott Walker’s decision not only threatens construction jobs associated with building the line, but hopes of rejuvinating Wisconsin’s struggling manufacturing sector.

Talgo Inc., a Spain-based producer of locomotive cars, recently built a new facility in Milwaukee to build trains for the line. But now its future is uncertain.

Company spokeswoman Nora Friend told the Associated Press:

Until two days ago we were telling (employees) there was definitely potential for growth. Now we have to tell them the truth, that it all depends on what the government decides to do.

Says Large:

We were very excited because Talgo was expected to put a lot of our members back to work, but now I don’t know if it will stay here if Walker goes through with his threats.


The plant will anchor the planned Century City project, which would have included other manufacturing, retail and commercial enterprises to help kick start Milwaukee’s recessionary economy.

The funds will revert to the federal government if not used for high-speed rail.

Say Large:

High-speed rail is a great path to revitalize our economy. Walker needs to take another look at what he is saying and see how much killing this project will set our state back.


Photo used under a creative commons license from Flickr user loudtiger