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 In June 2011, the State Legislature and Governor repealed the State law creating SERTA, requiring SERTA to dissolve in September 2011, and resulting in the indefinite postponement of the KRM commuter rail studies.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.
Purpose & Need
On behalf of the Intergovernmental Partnership of the Counties and Cities of Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WISDOT) and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, the Regional Planning Commission undertook the EIS and Project Development phase of the KRM Alternatives Analysis (AA) in order to produce a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), refine the previous alternatives analysis, and develop further a commuter transportation project within the corridor. This study has been funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Section 5309 “New Starts” program, WISDOT, and the members of an Intergovernmental Partnership consisting of the Cities and Counties of Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Racine, WisDOT, and the Regional Planning Commission. The products of this study have been used to support an application to the FTA requesting permission to initiate Preliminary Engineering (PE) under the FTA’s discretionary “New Starts” funding program. This “New Starts” application was submitted to the FTA in June 2010 by the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SERTA), which was created in the 2009-2011 Wisconsin State budget to oversee the development of commuter rail service in Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee Counties.
The improvement and expansion of public transit in this heavily traveled corridor has the potential to provide a public transit alternative which will have travel times competitive with the automobile, support and encourage more efficient higher density development, reduce automobile traffic volume and congestion, reduce transportation-related air pollutants and energy consumption, provide a high quality alternative when IH 94 is undergoing reconstruction, and meet the needs of those who are unable or who choose not to use an automobile.
The corridor extending from Milwaukee to Chicago covers only 9% of the area in the thirteen counties comprising the combined Milwaukee and Chicago metropolitan area, but represents 26% of the population and 36% of the employment. Population density is nearly 3 times higher and job density is nearly 4 times higher in this corridor than in the combined metropolitan area, and is expected to grow. The portion of the corridor in southeastern Wisconsin lacks transportation options for travel between communities in the corridor, as well as for travel between southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. People with limited or no access to private automobiles are particularly restricted in their ability to access jobs and education, and census data indicates that 15% of the households within the KRM corridor in southeastern Wisconsin do not have an automobile.
Existing transit services do operate within the KRM corridor, but consist largely of separate local systems with services that are slow, operate only in a limited service area, and are not coordinated with each other. Improved transit is necessary for the corridor’s employers to find the workers they need to grow their businesses and for people within the corridor to access jobs as well as education and recreation. With limited arterial street and highway capacity, growing traffic volumes and congestion, and extremely limited opportunities for new highways, it is time to develop high quality and attractive transit service in the corridor that is competitive with the private automobile in terms of travel time, cost, and convenience.
High quality and attractive transit service can stimulate desirable and positive land use development and redevelopment in the older major cities such as Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Racine, in the older suburban communities such as Cudahy, St. Francis, and South Milwaukee, and in the newer developing communities such as Caledonia, Oak Creek, and Somers. An investment in high-quality transit service will generate additional investment in communities.