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Train depots pegged to historic locations

Brookfield, Oconomowoc depot sites to be discussed at community workshops

Aug. 02, 2010
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By Larry Sandler of the Journal Sentinel

Aug. 02, 2010 0

The state Department of Transportation has picked historically significant locations for new high-speed train stations in Brookfield and Oconomowoc, a top state rail official said Monday.

In Brookfield, the station will be located on Brookfield Road near River Road in the community's village area, where the city's first settlements were located, said John Oimoen, state passenger rail program manager. That site is currently a vacant lot, he said.

Oconomowoc's depot will use the community's original train station, at Cross and Collins streets, Oimoen said. That building has been designated a historical site, he said, and is now the home of Maxim's at the Oconomowoc Depot, a restaurant.

Both sites have long figured in discussions about the rail line. Plans for the Oconomowoc site were to be discussed at a community workshop Monday night, followed by a similar workshop in Brookfield from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Brookfield Elementary School, 2530 N. Brookfield Road.

The federal government has awarded the state $810 million to build a train line linking downtown Milwaukee with Madison, with stations in Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown. State officials previously have announced that the Madison station will be at the state Administration Building downtown, while the Watertown station will be built on the site of a vacant Pick 'n Save supermarket near that city's downtown.

Included in the $810 million project budget is $9 million for the Madison station and $5 million for each of the other three new stations. Oimoen said he believed stations could be built within that budget, and communities that want more elaborate stations would have to come up with more money.

Last year, Brookfield submitted a $17.9 million plan for a train station with a 300-space parking lot.

Current plans call for the municipalities to cover operating costs for the stations, Oimoen said. Operating costs for the rest of the train line would be borne by the state, an issue that has raised controversy in the gubernatorial race.

Service would start at 79 mph in 2013, with trains reaching top speeds of 110 mph by 2015, according to state officials. The line would run six round trips daily, although not all trains would stop between Milwaukee and Madison. The route would be an extension of Amtrak's Chicago-to-Milwaukee Hiawatha line and eventually could be extended to the Twin Cities as part of a broader Midwestern network of fast, frequent trains.

About Larry Sandler

Larry Sandler has been writing about government, politics, transportation, business and education in Wisconsin and Illinois for more than 25 years. He joined the Milwaukee Sentinel's staff as a general assignment reporter in 1982, after covering county government, politics and business for The Pantagraph of Bloomington-Normal, Ill. At the Sentinel, he reported on higher education, the Milwaukee Public Schools, Milwaukee County government and the manufacturing and transportation industries. After the April 1995 merger of the Sentinel and the Milwaukee Journal, Sandler became the transportation reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and from May 2001 to May 2007, he also wrote the weekly Road Warrior column. His investigation into flaws in aviation security earned a first-place award in the Milwaukee Press Club’s 2004 Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism Contest. Sandler was named City Hall reporter in June 2007 and continues to cover public transit issues as well. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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