Train station action delayed
Revised cost estimates put 2 week hold on Brookfield council action
Action on a Brookfield high-speed rail station will be delayed by two weeks, Mayor Steve Ponto has announced.
Ponto also said he is opposed to building the station "on the basis of the information I have seen thus far."
In a memo to aldermen, Ponto said the state Department of Transportation had requested the delay to revise its cost estimates for building the station on a planned Milwaukee-to-Madison route. New figures won't be available until Thursday, pushing Common Council action back from Tuesday to the next meeting Oct. 5, Ponto wrote.
Initial estimates for a Brookfield station ranged from $17.9 million to $30 million, Ponto wrote. But after the state allocated $5 million for that station, from the $810 million in federal stimulus money awarded for the rail project, new estimates were prepared. Ponto said the lowest estimate was $12.9 million, with the state share rising to $7 million, leaving Brookfield taxpayers to cover $5.9 million. Those estimates have since changed, said Ponto and Cari Anne Renlund, executive assistant to state Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi.
In addition to the construction cost, Brookfield would have to pay $30,000 to $100,000 a year to maintain and operate the unmanned station, partly offset by parking and advertising revenue, Ponto wrote.
Mayor has opposed stop
During and since his mayoral campaign last spring, Ponto has opposed spending local tax dollars on a Brookfield station. Ponto also noted that the high-speed line has become a controversy in the Nov. 2 gubernatorial election, with Democrat Tom Barrett supporting it and Republican Scott Walker vowing to shut down construction.
The line is to operate as an extension of Amtrak's Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha route and eventually could be extended to the Twin Cities. It is to start service with six round trips at a top speed of 79 mph in 2013, increasing to 110 mph by the end of 2015.
Intermediate stations were originally planned for Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown, but the DOT has yanked Oconomowoc from the lineup. Officials in four other communities - Wauwatosa, Hartland, Waterloo and Sun Prairie - have voiced interest in stations, but Renlund says the DOT does not plan to act on them until after the Brookfield situation is resolved.
Renlund said interest in a Wauwatosa station came from Ald. Linda Nikcevich and Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki, but she has since discussed the issue with Mayor Jill Didier, who opposes the station. DOT representatives are talking with officials in Hartland - which would be the last option for a Waukesha County station if Brookfield pulls out - but not in Sun Prairie or Waterloo, Renlund said.
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