Plans for Oconomowoc train station dropped, Brookfield residents balk

Plans for a high speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison are hitting a snag in Republican stronghold Waukesha County.
The federal government is proving $810 million to build the high speed rail line.
Originally stops on the line were planned for Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown.
However the Department of Transportation informed Oconomowoc officials last week that plans for a train station have been dropped because of a lack of support from city officials.
“In review of our discussions, you have indicated you no longer have interest in a station in the city of Oconomowoc,” said DOT Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi said this week in a later to Oconomowoc Mayor James Daley. “Due to the lack of interest by the city we are discontinuing further discussions on a proposed station in Oconomowoc.”
However, Oconomowoc officials say the DOT is exaggerating the city’s concerns about the high speed rail line and train station project. City officials were only asking basic questions about what the train station would cost the city to build and to operate, said economic development director Bob Duffy.
“We were surprised (by the DOT’s decision),” Duffy said. “Obviously, we had some questions. We are looking out for the best interests of our community. We’re obviously disappointed how the DOT decided to end our conversation.”
The state indicated it would provide about $5 million to build the train station, but city officials never got a clear answer on how much the facility would cost, Duffy said. The city would have had to pay for any of the construction costs beyond $5 million, and would have had to pay for operations and maintenance costs, he said.
Oconomowoc is about 13 miles east of Watertown, located in Dodge and Jefferson counties, where officials are supporting the high speed rail plans.
“These are exciting times, I believe, for the city of Watertown for passenger rail, freight rail and our economic development for the future,” said Watertown Mayor Ron Krueger.
Meanwhile, several residents in Brookfield are expressing opposition to plans for a high speed rail station in their community. A large crowd turned out this week for a Brookfield Common Council discussion on the plans. Most of the residents who spoke on the topic objecting to the train plans.
Some, including Milwaukee Ald. Robert Bauman and Milwaukee County Clerk Joseph Czarnezki, say the DOT should put a train station in Wauwatosa instead of Brookfield.
“We should not spend tax dollars to construct stations in Waukesha County, where ridership is expected to be very low,” Czarnezki said in a letter this week to the DOT. A Wauwatosa station should be built near the Milwaukee County Research Park, he said.
Some critics of the Milwaukee to Madison high speed rail line say the train will not be fast enough to attract riders. Eliminating the stop in Oconomowoc will reduce the travel time from Milwaukee to Madison.
The proposed high speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison has become a major issue in the governor’s campaign with Democrat Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in support and both Republicans, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former Congressman Mark Neumann, opposed.

Plans for a high speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison are hitting a snag in Republican stronghold Waukesha County.
The federal government is proving $810 million to build the high speed rail line.
Originally stops on the line were planned for Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown.
However the Department of Transportation informed Oconomowoc officials last week that plans for a train station have been dropped because of a lack of support from city officials.
“In review of our discussions, you have indicated you no longer have interest in a station in the city of Oconomowoc,” said DOT Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi said this week in a later to Oconomowoc Mayor James Daley. “Due to the lack of interest by the city we are discontinuing further discussions on a proposed station in Oconomowoc.”
However, Oconomowoc officials say the DOT is exaggerating the city’s concerns about the high speed rail line and train station project. City officials were only asking basic questions about what the train station would cost the city to build and to operate, said economic development director Bob Duffy.
“We were surprised (by the DOT’s decision),” Duffy said. “Obviously, we had some questions. We are looking out for the best interests of our community. We’re obviously disappointed how the DOT decided to end our conversation.”
The state indicated it would provide about $5 million to build the train station, but city officials never got a clear answer on how much the facility would cost, Duffy said. The city would have had to pay for any of the construction costs beyond $5 million, and would have had to pay for operations and maintenance costs, he said.
Oconomowoc is about 13 miles east of Watertown, located in Dodge and Jefferson counties, where officials are supporting the high speed rail plans.
“These are exciting times, I believe, for the city of Watertown for passenger rail, freight rail and our economic development for the future,” said Watertown Mayor Ron Krueger.
Meanwhile, several residents in Brookfield are expressing opposition to plans for a high speed rail station in their community. A large crowd turned out this week for a Brookfield Common Council discussion on the plans. Most of the residents who spoke on the topic objecting to the train plans.
Some, including Milwaukee Ald. Robert Bauman and Milwaukee County Clerk Joseph Czarnezki, say the DOT should put a train station in Wauwatosa instead of Brookfield.
“We should not spend tax dollars to construct stations in Waukesha County, where ridership is expected to be very low,” Czarnezki said in a letter this week to the DOT. A Wauwatosa station should be built near the Milwaukee County Research Park, he said.
Some critics of the Milwaukee to Madison high speed rail line say the train will not be fast enough to attract riders. Eliminating the stop in Oconomowoc will reduce the travel time from Milwaukee to Madison.
The proposed high speed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison has become a major issue in the governor’s campaign with Democrat Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in support and both Republicans, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former Congressman Mark Neumann, opposed.

Comments are closed.