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Officials hope infrastructure law can help fund passenger rail

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Passenger Rail Eau Claire 01-17-2022

EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - Eau Claire has not had a passenger rail for decades, and officials are optimistic a recently passed federal bill could give them the opportunity to make the train service a reality again.

As News 18 has previously reported, the Chippewa-St. Croix Rail Commission aims to create a passenger train connecting Eau Claire to St. Paul with potential stops in Menomonie, Baldwin, Hudson, and Stillwater.

Scott Rogers, chair of the West Central Wisconsin Rail Coalition, said the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in the fall includes $66 billion in funding for passenger and freight rail.

Rogers is hopeful the state or region will apply for funding for the project since Wisconsin has a state rail plan that includes service through Eau Claire.

"We actually have not had it since 1963," Rogers said. "And so everybody's excited about this and we really think that to be economically competitive in this new century, that we're going to need to have it as a form of transportation to attract talent to our area and to be strong economically."

Rogers added the commission is made up of counties and municipalities along the potential train route to help oversee the development of the project.

Officials also hope to eventually have a rail service that connects Eau Claire to Milwaukee and Chicago.

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