Today, a group of city and state officials will gather here in Madison to begin the process of deciding whether Peter Theron will be granted a permit to run a demonstration on city streets the last Friday of this month.
Theron, a Republican who is running against incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin for the 2nd District Congressional seat, wants to conduct a train-crossing simulation August 27th between 4 and 6 PM. He wants crossing guards with flags to stop traffic for one minute, 13 times an hour, on John Nolen Drive, South Blair Street, East Wilson Street, and Williamson Street.
This is either one of the greatest political stunts ever attempted, or a potentially graphic demonstration of what it will really be like when the trains that have been talked about for the past 20 years in Madison are running.
Mind you, there’s no clear start date for the commuter rail, because the Regional Transit Authority hasn’t even decided yet when it’s going to hold a referendum on the additional sales tax money it wants to fund the trains. And the so-called “high speed rail” (it really isn’t high speed, more like medium speed compared to true high-speed rail) passenger train from Madison to Milwaukee is expected to start operations early in 2013.
Some say Theron’s idea is no more than a political stunt, and even if the city/state committee allows him to pull it off, it won’t be representative of reality when the trains are actually operating. Others say it’s about time somebody actually gave all these train supporters a look at what they will be doing to traffic on the isthmus.
Theron, who has made eminently clear he’s opposed to train projects of all sort, says his goal is just to see what will happen to traffic downtown if the proposed trains ever do leave the station.
Stay tuned. This should be interesting, especially if the committee allows Theron to do it.