New Governors Kill $1.2 Billion High Speed Rail Lines in Ohio & Wisconsin

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Two candidates for governor made opposing high speed rail projects in their states a central part of their campaign -- Scott Walker in Wisconsin and John Kasich in Ohio both claimed that high speed rail was too expensive, and a waste of taxpayer money. Between the two states, $1.2 billion of federal stimulus money had already been allotted to create jobs and jump start high speed rail infrastructure. Both candidates vowed to reject such funding -- and now elected, they're making good on their pledges. Here's the NY Times (via Climate Progress):

Scott Walker, the incoming governor of Wisconsin, for instance, vowed on Wednesday to carry out a campaign pledge to kill a proposed high-speed rail link between Milwaukee and Madison, part of a larger project to create a high-speed rail corridor across the upper Midwest, from Minneapolis to Chicago. The project was to be fully paid for with $810 million in federal stimulus funds.

... The newly elected Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, who ousted Ted Strickland, a Democrat, has also reiterated a campaign pledge to kill a $400 million stimulus-funded rail project in his state. "Passenger rail is not in Ohio's future," Mr. Kasich said at his first news conference after the election. "That train is dead."

The curious thing about the whole affair is that the funding had already been allocated -- and after it's rejected, the money will simply be redistributed to one of any other states that's eager for more funding for its own high speed rail projects, and it won't make any difference at all to the taxpayer.

The campaign pledge to kill rail was therefore ideologically motivated -- as Brad Johnson points out, the primary reason Walker and Kasich were so aggrieved by the project was the prospect of government money being used to create jobs. It was estimated that the project would have created upwards of 8,000 jobs -- and it would have helped lay the foundation for high speed rail infrastructure in the Midwest. But alas -- goodbye high speed rail in Wisconsin and Ohio, we hardly knew ye.

More on US High Speed Rail
Fate of High Speed Rail Uncertain after Election
High Speed Rail Finally Coming to the US: A Look at the Plans

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