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Thursday - April 20, 2017 12:25 am

La Crosse could lose Amtrak under new Trump budget

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City planning head, however, has opposite ideas in mind.

Transportation groups in Wisconsin have been pushing for more passenger train service for years, and it seems they've been making headway.

Now, however, President Donald Trump's administration plans to eliminate cross-country trains, such as the Empire Builder, which serves La Crosse.

The head of the La Crosse Area Planning Committee has other ideas. Opposite ideas. Tom Faella is optimistic that plans for additional train service will win out over those proposed cuts.

"We think there's a good possibility that that will occur, probably within the next four to five years," he said.

At a meeting Wednesday, the LAPC board talked about joining a coalition to promote high-speed rail through Wisconsin and Minnesota, though La Crosse and more than 200 other cities - in 23 states - could lose passenger train service under a new Trump White House budget.

Faella isn't concerned, yet.

"Pretty much every budget that comes out, there are people that want to get rid of Amtrak," he said. "So, that's sort of a perennial thing."

Faella pointed out that Wisconsin has made progress in actually adding a second daily run of the Empire Builder, which would double the number of stops at La Crosse's Amtrak depot.

And, that his expansion ideas would fit into Trump's promises to improve infrastructure.

"You know there's a lot of talk about infrastructure bank, and putting a billion dollars into infrastructure," Faella said. "There's also talk about slashing the budget dramatically. So, who knows what's going to happen at the end?"

The current federal budget plan, however, calls for scrapping the Empire Builder to save money that could be used to increase train service on the east coast.



Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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