Chicago-Milwaukee Intercity Passenger Rail Corridor Environmental Assessment and Service Development Plan

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and in partnership with Amtrak, are conducting an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Service Development Plan (SDP) for improvements on the Amtrak Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee. The proposed service improvements include:

  • Increasing daily Amtrak Hiawatha Service frequencies from the current seven round trips to 10 round trips.
  • Reducing travel times, potentially through an increase in maximum speed to 90 mph between Rondout, Illinois, and the General Mitchell International Airport (GMIA).

The purpose of the Chicago-Milwaukee Intercity Passenger Rail Service EA is to provide FRA, WisDOT, IDOT, local governments, and the public with a full understanding of the service-wide environmental impacts associated with the alternatives developed to meet the project’s purpose and need.

The EA is developed to comply with federal environmental laws and regulations (National Environmental Policy Act) and Wisconsin and Illinois state environmental laws and regulations.

Environmental Assessment

FRA published the Chicago-Milwaukee Intercity Passenger Rail Service Draft EA in October 2016. Since then, the Draft EA has been available for public review. See links to Draft EA files below.

As of September 2018, FRA and project sponsors have decided to conduct additional analysis and outreach to ensure that the impacted communities' questions and concerns are addressed in the EA, which is undergoing revisions.

 

Service Development Plan

Map of the corridor

 Map of the corridor

The SDP is prepared during the planning phase for intercity passenger rail programs. The SDP lays out the overall scope and approach of the proposed service. The SDP will be made available to the public for review on this webpage once finalized.​​ 

Among the primary objectives of the SDP are:

  • To clearly demonstrate the purpose and need for the proposed intercity passenger rail improvements.
  • To describe the analysis of alternatives for the proposed intercity passenger rail improvements.
  • To demonstrate the operations and financial feasibility of the proposed intercity passenger rail improvements.
  • To identify the specific capital improvements necessary to support the additional frequencies. The environmental impacts of the improvements will be analyzed in the EA.

Project Questions

Comments or questions about the study can be submitted by:

  • Email:  DOTChicagoMilwaukeePassengerRailEA@dot.wi.gov
  • Mail:    Arun Rao
               Passenger Rail Manager
               Wisconsin Department of Transportation
               4802 Sheboygan Ave. Rm 701
               Madison, WI 53707
  • Phone: (608) 261-6123