Steps towards an Amtrak passenger rail stop in Madison are underway.
Madison will begin a Passenger Rail Station Study this month, focusing on a location for the potential Amtrak terminal.
The terminal location currently has six routes: the University of Wisconsin-Madison Campus, Downtown, First Street, Near East Side, Oscar Mayer and Dane County Regional Airport.
Amtrak’s original plan would connect Madison to Milwaukee and Chicago with a long-term goal of adding routes to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
“Amtrak provides another travel option to Milwaukee and Chicago,” Tom Lynch, the City of Madison’s Director of Transportation, told The Daily Cardinal. “It also provides a connection to a larger passenger rail network that serves the entire United States.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration identified Madison as a market for rail transportation.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation would give the final say on the funding for the track improvements and the different things that we need to actually get the rail to come here,” Philip Gritzmacher, Jr., a city transportation planner, told NBC15.
An Amtrak station in Madison may be feasible because of the 2021 federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which added $66 billion in funding for passenger rail services.
“This type of funding increase rarely occurs, so it is important for us to work with Amtrak and capitalize on the funding opportunities,” Lynch wrote to NBC15.
Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway included $350,000 for the Amtrak project in next year’s capital budget.
Once a station site is chosen, funding will be used to create concept drawings and identify any necessary improvements, according to Lynch.
Gritzmacher said the city hopes to decide on the location for the potential train station by May. However, Lynch said it will be years before the rail service would be ready for public use.
The project kickoff meeting will take place on Dec. 7 at 4:30 p.m. in room 215 of the Madison Municipal Building. Public input is welcome.