Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station
|Location||5601 South 6th Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
|Owned by||Wisconsin Department of Transportation|
|Platforms||1 side platform|
|Connections||Shuttle bus to air terminal|
|Opened||January 18, 2005|
The Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station is an Amtrak railway station which opened for service on January 18, 2005. It is located at 5601 South 6th Street, just south of Wisconsin Highway 119, near the western edge of General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. The facility accommodates travelers who use the Hiawatha Service between Chicago Union Station and the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, and sees fourteen daily arrivals, seven each from Milwaukee and Chicago. There is a shuttle from the station to the terminal of Mitchell Airport.
Service and facilities
The Milwaukee Airport Rail Station's primary functions are to serve as an airport rail link for General Mitchell International Airport and to serve as an alternate to the downtown Milwaukee station for residents of the southern portions of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. The station is served only by the Amtrak Hiawatha Service, and sees fourteen daily arrivals, seven each from Milwaukee and Chicago Union Station. The station is the first stop en route to Chicago, with a travel time along the 8-mile (13-kilometer) section taking 10 minutes. It is also the third stop en route to Milwaukee, with a travel time along the 78-mile (126-kilometer) section taking one hour and 14 minutes. For 2008, the station handled 149,824 passengers.
The 1,600-square-foot (150 m2) station includes a Quik-Trak ticket vending machine, restrooms, a seating area and covered walkways to both the drive-up area and the boarding platform. As the station is unstaffed, all tickets from the station need to be pre-paid, purchased from Quik-Trak or on the train from a conductor. Passengers in need of checked baggage service are advised to utilize the downtown station instead because of this. The station parking lot contains 300 spaces and costs $5 per day per vehicle. All revenue generated from parking fees is used to finance the station's operating costs. Transport to and from the airport terminal is provided by the free parking shuttle buses operated by the airport.
The idea of opening an Amtrak station in the vicinity of Mitchell Airport is one that had been discussed since the mid-1970s. The justification for not building the station at the time was based on infrequent Amtrak service and relatively congestion-free access to the airport from the south by road. By the late 1990s, a station at the airport was proposed as part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative. In June 2001, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation authorized $100,000 to start the preliminary design for the station, with an original opening slated for late-2003. Although funding was authorized for preliminary work, funding for actual construction had not been secured.
How to fund construction of the station became an issue following objections from both airport and Milwaukee County officials. Although supported by both airport and local officials, they stated that financing a facility to transport persons primarily away from Milwaukee should not be done with local, but rather state and federal sources. As a result of this sentiment, Senator Herb Kohl requested $5 million for its construction as part of a federal transportation appropriations bill in July, only to see it reduced to $2.5 million in the final bill in December. With an additional $4 million in funding secured by Kohl in February 2003, combined with the $2.5 million previously appropriated, construction of the $6.5 million station could commence.
Groundbreaking for the facility occurred on June 28, 2004. Present at the ceremony was Governor Jim Doyle, Herb Kohl and state Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi. Included in its $6.8 million budget was funds for both the construction of the station in addition to track improvements to reduce delays between Milwaukee and Chicago. State and local economic development officials saw its construction as an opportunity for travelers from the Chicago metropolitan area to use the station as a rail link to reach General Mitchell International Airport as an alternative for both Chicago's Midway and O'Hare airports. The station opened for service on January 18, 2005, as a regular stop along Amtrak's Hiawatha Service. At the time of its opening, this became only the fourth Amtrak station to have direct service to an airport after Baltimore, Newark and Burbank. In January 2006, the station was awarded an Urban Design Award from Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett for its design as a "Prairie-style transportation symbol."
In 2009, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation proposed adding 400 feet (120 m) to the southern end of the existing 400-foot (120 m) platform. The station was designed for trains carrying only four coach cars; however, service has since been expanded to five cars with a sixth being proposed for the future. A six-car train is nearly 700 feet (210 m) long, thus the additional platform space is necessary to accommodate the increased train length for boarding and deboarding passengers.
- "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2016, State of Wisconsin" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
- Amtrak (October 26, 2009), Hiawatha Service Timetable: Milwaukee - Chicago (PDF), Amtrak
- Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2008 - State of Wisconsin (PDF), Amtrak, November 2008, retrieved January 4, 2010
- "Milwaukee Airport Railroad Station". Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on September 12, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
- "Milwaukee - General Mitchell International Airport, WI (MKA)". Amtrak. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
- Sandler, Larry (January 14, 2005). "Amtrak on track to open at airport; Officials expect to lure O'Hare traffic". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 1B.
- Sandler, Larry (March 10, 1996). "Norquist, Daley considering Mitchell-O'Hare train". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3A.
- Sandler, Larry (October 21, 2000). "Thompson tours site of possible rail station". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
- Sandler, Larry (June 12, 2001). "Amtrak station at Mitchell advances". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 1A.
- Sandler, Larry (June 13, 2001). "Funding for Amtrak stop up in air; County, airlines not interested in footing bill for airport station". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
- Sandler, Larry (July 13, 2001). "U.S. Senate panel backs Hoan funds; Bill would cover repairs, fund airport Amtrak, Kohl says". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
- Sandler, Larry (December 4, 2001). "U.S. aid for Hoan repair advances; Congressional panel sets aside $7.5 million". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
- Sandler, Larry (February 25, 2003). "State, federal budgets would keep railway passengers on track". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
- Sandler, Larry (May 18, 2003). "DOT officials consider train service to Mitchell". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
- Sandler, Larry (June 29, 2004). "Amtrak breaks ground for airport station". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 1D.
- Sandler, Larry (August 15, 2004). "Mitchell touted as alternative to O'Hare". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 2B.
- Sandler, Larry (January 19, 2005). "Amtrak launches airport link". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
- Gould, Whitney (January 6, 2006). "Milwaukee honors design, preservation". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 3B.
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation (August 2009), Milwaukee Airport Rail Station Platform Extension Grant, Application Number: HSR2010000142 (PDF), retrieved January 4, 2010
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