The City of Madison is launching a study that could determine the location of a new Amtrak station in Madison. The location could potentially become a part of Amtrak’s Hiawatha line.
Here is Madison Transportation Planner Phillip Gritzmacher, Jr. talking more about this project:
“This would be an extension of the Hiawatha line which is one of the most successful rail lines in the country. So it would connect Madison up to Chicago and Milwaukee and a few stops in between with the existing Hiawatha with four round trips,” Gritzmacher Jr. says.
The study plans to look at six locations around the city to determine which would be a more suitable candidate. The six candidates were not selected at random. They are locations that have been singled out and recommended by previous studies done by the City.
Gritzmacher, Jr. says that although the City is pulling from previous studies, they are approaching this project with fresh eyes.
He said that although the city “had the high-speed rail effort from 2010, we aren’t necessarily picking up from there and using the station we had identified there. We are completely starting fresh and taking a look at this from the perspective of the Hiawatha extension and the operational needs associated with that”
It’s not just about what location is most convenient. Ben Lyman, a transportation planner with Madison Metropolitan Planning Organization, says that a railway station has to take into account multiple logistical, and mechanical considerations.
“You know the trains need somewhere that is relatively straight and long to be able to pull up to the boarding platforms,” Lyman explains. “And so it can’t be on a really sharp bend, you cannot have the train blocking major roads while it is loading or unloading so there are only so many locations where they can go,”
Additionally, Lyman says it’s important that “wherever the station is located, it will be critical that it has really good connections to local transit service so that not everyone has to drive a private automobile to get there. It’s going to be important to be on bus routes, for it to be accessible by low traffic stress bike facilities and connected to the pedestrian network.”
But before the study is officially launched, the city is planning a meeting that will take place Wednesday December 7th. The goal is to introduce residents to the study and to get input. Gritzmacher, Jr. again:
“The purpose of the meeting is really to introduce the community to the station identification study where we are trying to figure out the preferred location for the future passenger station. So it is to introduce the study and also get feedback and figure out what the community’s preferences are.”
But more than anything Gritzmacher, Jr. sees this as an opportunity for the Madison community to voice their opinions and shape their city.
“I hope we have good attendance,” Gritzmacher Jr. says. “I think this is a really good opportunity for the community to voice its opinion and influence the process. There are no preconceived notions of where the station is going to be, so I think it’s really really important that the community voices its opinion either by emailing me, or attending one of the meetings. We’re really compiling all this feedback and trying to figure out where the best location is going to be. So that’s the number one thing I will relay: get involved and be heard. This is an opportunity to be heard.”
The meeting will start at 4:30pm on Wednesday and can be attended in-person at the Madison Municipal Building where residents can talk to Amtrak and city staff, the consulting team, and the mayor. Madison residents can also register and attend the meeting through Zoom.
Reporting for W-O-R-T News, I’m Antonio Barreras Lozano.
Photo courtesy of: Johannes Krupinski/Unsplash