LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Wisconsin and Minnesota are working together to provide more options for train travel. First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff breaks down the twin cities-Milwaukee-Chicago passenger rail project.

Multiple states are working together to provide more options for passenger rail travel.

The Twin Cities-Milwaukee-Chicago (TCMC) project is moving forward following a $10M commitment from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.

The combination of Minnesota’s $10M, Wisconsin’s $6.5M, Amtrak’s $5M, and a $31.8M federal grant covers the project’s overall capital cost of $53.3M.

Multiple organizations have been advocating for the TCMC, including the Great River Rail Commission.

Commission member Kevin Roggenbuck is grateful that the project is moving forward because of the many benefits it can provide in multiple areas.

“The mobility benefits, safety benefits, economic benefits, freight movement benefits,” Roggenbuck listed. “It is so gratifying to finally get over this hump and get state funding for this project.”

The TCMC would also benefit tourism in the cities along the rail line because of a significant increase in daily passengers.

“The stop here [La Crosse] pre-pandemic was doing 25-28,000 people annually,” La Crosse Area Planning Committee (LAPC) Executive Director Peter Fletcher said. “With the TCMC you’re looking at possibly doubling that as far as an annual service so it’s just going to bring more people.”

The 411-mile route is projected to serve more than 124,000 riders during its first year of service.

The TCMC would also benefit other forms of rail travel, as it includes infrastructure improvements for increased freight train traffic.

Fletcher says the money put towards freight improvements would solve a problem for trains traveling through La Crosse.

“This area has been known in some cases as a bottleneck for freight trains, and because of the TCMC, the benefits from that will alleviate some of those freight concerns,” Fletcher explained.

A memorandum of understanding is now needed between Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin, along with Amtrak and the host railroad Canadian Pacific.

The Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Transportation will be leading the design and construction process.

In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.

The TCMC has a capital cost totaling more than 53 million dollars.

The second train is projected to be in service in 2024.