State finalizes rail purchase to support freight rail system
MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Governor Scott Walker announced Thursday, December 11th that the state has finalized the purchase of a 70-mile segment of rail line between Madison to Reedsburg and Madison to Cottage Grove.
“This significant investment is yet another example of our state’s continued commitment to a strong transportation system which is vital to growing Wisconsin’s economy,” noted Governor Walker.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) signed an acquisition agreement for the purchase of the Madison to Reedsburg and Cottage Grove rail corridor from the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) earlier this year. With the acquisition completed, there are approximately 600 miles of state-owned track in Wisconsin, including this segment that includes a bridge over Lake Wisconsin at the village of Merrimac.
The $30 million purchase was 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 (WSOR) under lease with the WRRTC.
In 2013, WSOR transported 5,070 cars on the Madison to Reedsburg and Cottage Grove line, serving 23 customers including: United Coop, Landmark Agronomy, Seneca Foods, R.R. Donnelly/Perry Printing, Hanke Terminals, Greede Foundry and Hydrite Chemical. Commodities transported include grain, chemicals, polymers, paper, food products, lumber, aggregate and metal.
From 2007 to 2030, overall freight rail tonnage shipped in Wisconsin is forecast to grow 16 percent. Annually, railroads move 33 percent, or about 180 million tons, of Wisconsin’s total freight by weight.