Wisconsin & Southern Railroad LLC will soon complete a major capital project to rehabilitate a publicly-owned railroad corridor between Madison and Milton, Wis. The project, expected to be completed this year, consists of installing 30,000 railroad ties, upgrading 21 public at-grade railroad crossings and installing 32 miles of continuous welded rail in the following communities: Madison, McFarland, Stoughton, Edgerton and Milton.
In total, this project will require more than 20,000 man hours or the equivalent of 40 full-time positions in order to complete.
A 2007 train derailment in Fulton was a major reason prompting this rail upgrade project. Since this derailment, WSOR trains had been traveling restricted speeds between 10 and 25 mph as a safety precaution. On January 10, 2012, railroad officials conducted an ultrasonic test of all newly installed rail and the test found no defects present. Since improvements have taken place and testing completed, speed restrictions will be removed and train speeds will now approach 49 mph between John Nolen Drive in Madison and Vincent Street in Milton. Due to speed enhancements along this corridor, motorists can plan to spend significantly less time waiting for passing trains at railroad crossings. Speed restrictions in certain areas will remain in place until further improvements such as bridge repairs can be made.
“The rail that was replaced was old, worn out and deteriorated beyond repair,” stated Ben Meighan, superintendant of maintenance-of-way. “Upgrading this section of track will enable us to serve our customers safely and efficiently with reduced transit times. Wisconsin-based products will get to U.S. and world markets faster and Dane and Rock County businesses can count on better, more responsive rail service,” he added.
Funding for the project is being provided by a WisDOT grant covering 80 percent of project costs. The remaining 20 percent of costs is contributed by the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad (13 percent) and the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission (two percent). The railroad corridor between Milton and Madison, Wisconsin is publicly-owned by the State of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission. In accordance with DOT grant funding requirements, all work performed by the railroad is done on a “cost-only” basis.