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Eau Claire part of proposed new Amtrak routes

Eau Claire and several other cities in Wisconsin would be new stops for the passenger rail...
Eau Claire and several other cities in Wisconsin would be new stops for the passenger rail service if a map released Wednesday night were to go into effect.(Amtrak)
Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 8:39 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU, WMTV) - Amtrak has released plans about what the company would do if the Biden Administration’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure plan passes , and its plan includes several stops throughout Wisconsin.

Eau Claire and several other cities in Wisconsin would be new stops for the passenger rail service if a map released Wednesday night were to go into effect.

“Getting passenger rail service to the Chippewa Valley adds to our attractiveness as a community, it helps our economy, means it’s easier to come and go and some of the great growth we’ve already been seeing would continue even more,” said Scott Rogers, Chair of the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition.

The coalition’s goal is to bring commuter passenger rail line from Saint Paul, Minn. to the Chippewa Valley.

Rogers said intercity rail service will make Eau Claire a more appealing place to live.

“It would make us an attractive place to live. One of the visions we have is that this a way to attract more high quality talent to live in the Eau Claire area. We’ve been recognized as one of the best small communities in the country,” he said.

According to the map, a brand-new route extends from Duluth, Minnesota, to Milwaukee and beyond, which would include the Twin Cities, Madison, and Milwaukee. Eastbound travelers could then drop down from Milwaukee to Chicago, which serves as one of Amtrak’s most important hubs. Riders heading west would have the option of direct routes to Minneapolis. From Minneapolis, the can go to Duluth - or grab a line that stretches as far west as Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon.

Amtrak proposes new and improved routes if the Biden Administration's infrastructure plan passes.
Amtrak proposes new and improved routes if the Biden Administration's infrastructure plan passes.(Amtrak)

In making its case for improved lines, Amtrak states train travel is 83% more efficient than driving and 73% more efficient than flying. New routes can provide an economic boost to cities and battle inequality.

“With a growing and diverse population, a global climate crisis and longer traffic jams, America needs a rail network that offers frequent, reliable, sustainable, and equitable train service. Amtrak has the vision and expertise to deliver it,” the company argues.

While the company didn’t say specifically how long it would take for the routes to be completed, the map indicates it expects the entire nationwide improvement project would be completed by 2035.

In addition to Madison and Eau Claire, the new plan would add a terminals in Green Bay and Rockford enhance the service running from Milwaukee to Chicago.

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