Plan for Madison rail pushes ahead with criticism

Doubt no longer exists that commuter train plans, as part of Plan 2020, are moving forward. 


Although the plans are still in their initial stages, a meeting Thursday at Monona Terrace sought to receive criticism and input from the local community in an effort to narrow it down to either alternative 2A or 3. 


""It will take next year at the earliest to get into the funding pipeline,"" said project Senior Environmental Planner Caron Kloser. 


The now two possible alternatives look to include the UW campus as a major consideration since, according to commission member Kenneth Kinney, ""No UW, no project.""  


However, with one station planning to be built within the, still long off, new Union South, it will be quite a while before campus tours include a wait at a commuter train crossing. 


According to Plan 2020 Project Manager Dave Trowbridge, both alternatives, labeled ‘2A' and ‘3', whittled down from an original six, include stations at three locations on campus: one near the Kohl Center, a second within the future rebuilding of Union South and a third near UW Hospital.  


A presentation by Kinney outlined the routes of both alternativesâ_2A would follow existing freight rail lines from the outskirts of Sun Prairie west to downtown Middleton. Alternative 3 would instead run from the Dane County Airport out to the same station in Middleton.  


""[Alternative 2A] in particular, I think, would benefit [students living on the east side] and then the Sun Prairie line would get out to East Towne for shopping or other purposes like that,"" Trowbridge said. 


Nathan Guequierre, a planner for the project, also agreed that alternative 2A would be a better fit for the campus. 


""Alternative 2A has a higher level of service because they run one train from [Middleton] to [Union Corners] and then this middle part through the campus, from the UW hospitals to Union Corners,"" Guequierre said. ""They'll overlap and there'll be twice as many trains ... they'll come every 10 minutes there during peak periods.""  


Plans for alternative 2A would have trains running every 10 minutes on campus, with alternative 3 having trains running every 15 minutes. Currently, the planners are hoping to have the trains run from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays.  


Guequierre was quick to add, however, ""this is just an example of what it could be.""

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