This site was actively used over the period 2005-2011 as the necessary technical and environmental studies to permit the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee (KRM) commuter rail project to proceed to implementation were conducted. These studies were initiated in 2005 by an Intergovernmental Partnership of the County Executives and Mayors of Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Racine, the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and the Chairman of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. In July 2009, the studies were continued by the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SERTA), which was created by the Wisconsin State Legislature and Governor in the 2009-2011 Wisconsin State budget specifically to oversee the development of a KRM commuter rail service. In June 2011, the State Legislature and Governor repealed the State law creating SERTA, requiring SERTA to dissolve in September 2011, and resulting in the indefinite postponement of the KRM commuter rail studies. As such, links within the site relating to submittal of comments and questions, and sign-up for email updates have been de-activated.



Here in Southeastern Wisconsin, community leaders have long recognized the potential for improving transit in the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee corridor. By better connecting Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee to each other as well as to northeast Illinois and Chicago, both economic and population growth within the corridor and in the Milwaukee-Chicago mega-metro area will likely result, along with better access to jobs, culture, and entertainment. Here’s a recap of what’s been accomplished so far and where the effort stands today:

  • In 1998, SEWRPC completed a feasibility study concluding that establishing a 33 mile commuter rail service from Kenosha – through Racine – to Milwaukee (KRM) is technically and financially feasible.
  • An alternatives analysis of commuter rail and bus alternatives for the KRM corridor followed looking at costs, benefits and impacts of both commuter rail and bus alternatives. In spring of 2003, public hearings were conducted with more than 1,280 people indicating their support for the commuter rail alternative with only 20 opposed. The study advisory committee recommended that the project move into Preliminary Engineering with the State being the project sponsor of the proposed commuter rail, and that the proposed commuter rail be funded by Federal and state dollars.
  • State legislation was enacted in the Summer of 2003 defining the State’s role with respect to commuter rail as providing capital and operating financial assistance to locally-sponsored commuter rail projects and requiring a local funding share of commuter rail implementation.
  • In February of 2005 an Intergovernmental Partnership (IGP) was formed among the County Executives and Mayors of Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Racine, the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and the Chairman of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. The IGP agreed to conduct the necessary technical and environmental studies to permit the project to proceed to implementation. Each member of the IGP, other than the Regional Planning Commission, appointed a representative to serve on the KRM Project Steering Committee with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission serving as lead agency, project manager, and fiscal agent for the next phase of the KRM study. The role of the Steering Committee is to provide overall direction and oversight of the study.
  • Also in early 2005, a group of business leaders from the Greater Milwaukee Committee joined with elected officials representing the Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee areas and representatives from Transit Now, a non-profit group, to determine how to advance the KRM project. The group works to develop support for critical issues including governance and financing.
  • In July of 2005, the State Legislature and Governor enacted legislation creating a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) serving Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee Counties which was to recommend a sponsor for the commuter rail project and a source to provide the necessary local funding for the project.
  • In July of 2007, alternative analysis of commuter rail and bus alternatives was completed, including all technical work for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). A subsequent application to the Federal Transit Administration for approval of the DEIS was withdrawn by the RTA because the 2007-2009 Wisconsin State budget did not create a permanent regional transit authority with the authority to construct and operate a commuter rail line in the KRM corridor and did not provide a local dedicated funding source for the project.
  • In anticipation that the 2009-2011 Wisconsin State budget would provide a permanent regional transit authority, the “temporary” RTA created in July of 2005 and the IGP continued to work on obtaining approval for the DEIS, updating the alternatives analysis, and preparing to apply for a Federal New Starts grant for the project’s capital funding.
  • In the 2009-2011 Wisconsin State budget, a permanent Southeast Regional Transit Authority (SERTA) was created. SERTA has been given the authority to construct and operate the KRM commuter rail line with the authority to levy a vehicle rental fee of up to $18 per transaction in each of Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha Counties.
  • In June of 2010, SERTA submitted an application to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requesting permission to initiate Preliminary Engineering (PE) under the FTA’s discretionary “New Starts” funding program. Should the FTA approve the “New Starts” application, the SERTA Board of Directors would decide whether or not to initiate preliminary engineering on a KRM commuter rail line.

About the KRM Commuter Link Project

The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission has undertaken this phase of the project on behalf of the Intergovernmental Partnership (IGP) of the Counties and Cities of Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), and the Regional Planning Commission. A consulting team was hired for this phase of the project, with the Regional Planning Commission acting as project manager and the KRM Steering Committee providing guidance on the direction of the project.

The outcome from this phase, which includes two basic components, will determine if the project will advance to Preliminary Engineering and eventual implementation. The first component is the development of a DEIS which is necessary to secure a favorable Record of Decision from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the project’s primary source of funding. The DEIS has now been prepared and filed with the Environmental Protection Agency, and is available for public comment. The second component is performing an Alternatives Analysis, reviewing and refining the commuter rail and bus alternatives considered to date, and recommending one for implementation. FTA funding will depend on how the recommended alternative compares to other similar projects nationwide based on FTA project criteria, including cost effectiveness.

The alternatives that have been considered as part of the Alternatives Analysis process include:

  • No-Build. This alternative essentially reflects the current transportation system throughout the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee corridor.
  • Transportation System Management (TSM). This alternative reflects the “best that can be done” to address the identified problems in the corridor without major capital investment in new infrastructure such as a new transit guideway. The TSM Alternative utilizes and improves upon the current transit services in the corridor using measures such as improved bus service and increased park-and-ride capacity in strategic locations but without making a major capital investment. The TSM Alternative represents a level of capital investment that is greater than the No-Build Alternative but substantially less than either the Bus Rapid Transit or Commuter Rail Alternatives.
  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). This alternative includes the development and operation of a high-capacity and capital-intensive commuter bus service between Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee that would be coordinated with the existing Kenosha-Chicago Metra service. This alternative builds and improves upon the TSM Alternative by incorporating the use of exclusive and/or semi-exclusive rights-of-way, on-line passenger stations, and vehicles with floor heights compatible with station platforms that improve passenger accessibility while reducing boarding and alighting times to provide a service comparable and competitive with commuter rail.
  • Commuter Rail. This alternative will include the development and operation of commuter rail service between Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee similar to that which is currently provided between Kenosha and Chicago. The service would be coordinated with the existing Kenosha-Chicago Metra service. Service options to be examined under this alternative include service requiring a cross-platform transfer at Kenosha or Waukegan and a through service that would not require such a transfer. Equipment options to be examined include conventional locomotive-hauled trains and self-propelled coaches.

The Commuter Rail Alternative was selected as the Locally Preferred Alternative by the KRM Steering Committee in November of 2006. It will include stations for each of the communities identified in the previous phase of the KRM study including Kenosha, Somers, Racine, Caledonia, Oak Creek, South Milwaukee, Cudahy/St. Francis, South Side Milwaukee, and Downtown Milwaukee.

map of proposed commuter rail extension


Intergovernmental Partnership for the Proposed Commuter Rail Service in the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee Corridor

Tom Barrett

Mayor, City of Milwaukee

Keith G. Bosman

Mayor, City of Kenosha

John Dickert

Mayor, City of Racine

Mark Gottlieb

Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Lee Holloway

Chairman, Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors

Jim Kreuser

County Executive, Kenosha County

William L. McReynolds

County Executive, Racine County

David L. Stroik

Chairman, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission


Steering Committee for the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee Commuter Rail Extension

George E. Melcher

Director of Planning and Development, Kenosha County, and Committee Chairman

Brian Dranzik

Director of Administration, Department of Transportation and Public Works, Milwaukee County

Ron Iwen

Director of Operations, City of Kenosha

Richard M. Jones

Commissioner of Public Works, City of Racine

Jeffrey J. Mantes

Commissioner of Public Works, City of Milwaukee

David Prott

Director of Public Works, Racine County

Mark J. Wolfgram

Administrator, Division of Transportation Investment Management, Wisconsin Department of Transportation