"A strong freight rail system is a key factor in supporting and growing Wisconsin's economy," noted Gov. Walker. "This acquisition helps strengthen that system and further demonstrates the state's commitment to freight rail, which many Wisconsin businesses depend on."
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) signed an acquisition agreement for the purchase of the Madison to Reedsburg and Cottage Grove rail corridor from Union Pacific. This 70-mile rail line includes a bridge over Lake Wisconsin at the village of Merrimac.
The total cost of the purchase is $30 million with $5 million going toward track improvements and the other $25 million for land. The purchase is being made jointly with the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission (WRRTC) with funds from the Freight Rail Preservation Program, which provides grants to local units of government, industries and railroads for the purpose of preserving and rehabilitating essential rail lines. Service on the line will continue to be provided by the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad under lease with the WRRTC.
The acquisition must now go to the Surface Transportation Board for approval.The actual purchase of the corridor is expected to be complete by late 2014.