Because vision is exactly what it takes to see the potential value of American passenger rail. And vision is exactly what Governor Jim Doyle and Mayors Ron Krueger of Watertown and Dave Cieslewicz of Madison have demonstrated with their aggressive approach to high-speed rail in Wisconsin.
So today I was pleased to visit Watertown and sign an agreement providing $46.5 million in Recovery Act money to continue work on the state’s rail program. This is the latest installment from the $822 million that President Obama announced for Wisconsin high-speed rail in January.
Wisconsin's leaders understand that passenger rail is more than just a way to get from one place to another.
They understand that we're talking about connecting people with opportunities. And for Wisconsin's small towns and rural communities, that kind of access is a real priority.
They understand that we're talking about economic growth. Whether it's the 5,500 Wisconsin workers helping to make this high-speed line a reality by 2013 or the development that will certainly accompany the Watertown rail station, this rail network and its linkage to Chicago and the Twin Cities will create jobs and produce a powerful ripple effect to help countless Wisconsin businesses.
As Gov. Doyle said, "You think about a high-speed rail transportation system linking major cities in the Midwest, and Watertown is going to be on that system. They are a tremendous winner."
They understand that we're talking about congestion relief on the already crowded highways between the region's cities and at the region's airports.
And they understand that we're talking about environmental benefits that will pay dividends for generations to come. High-speed rail travel offers reduced dependence on oil. It offers reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Thanks to the Obama Administration's commitment, high-speed rail in America is no longer a dream. In less time than it took to pave the vast system of inter-connected highways that President Eisenhower imagined in the 1950s, you will see high and higher speed passenger trains moving significant numbers of Americans smoothly, affordably, and sustainably.