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Wisconsin Short Line Railroad

Canadian National Railroad abandoned a 37-mile long low-traffic rail line in west-central Wisconsin in 2004. Communities previously served by the line petitioned the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for assistance in preserving rail service. The Department conducted an economic impact analysis in 2007 of the businesses directly served by the line to determine what level of assistance, if any, would be appropriate. The analysis revealed that a total of 254 jobs were supported by these businesses, including direct, indirect, and induced economic effects. This generates an estimated $9.7 million annually in wages and salaries in the three-county region along the rail corridor.

 

Subsequent analysis was conducted by Wisconsin DOT staff to assess the potential of this line to boost regional economic development. Their analysis was conducted using TREDIS in conjunction with REMI Policy Insight. Economic impacts were projected to 2024, a period of eighteen years. This study revealed that enhanced market access benefits to industries in the region could produce an annual average increase in employment of 2,200 jobs with an estimated average increase in wages and salaries of almost $91 million.

 

Consequently, the Department purchased and rehabilitated the rail line, and a local railroad company, Wisconsin and Southern, is now serving these communities.

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