Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050

Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050 planning process is underway

Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050 will replace Wisconsin Rail Plan 2030 as the statewide long-range rail transportation plan. The entire planning process is scheduled to be completed by January 2022.

Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050 will focus on freight rail, rail crossing safety, and passenger rail, through the year 2050. The Rail Plan will support the vision for Wisconsin’s transportation system:

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) envisions an integrated multimodal transportation system that maximizes the safe and efficient movement of people and products throughout the state, enhancing economic productivity and the quality of Wisconsin’s communities while minimizing impacts to the natural environment.​​​​

​​Notice of Intent open to comment through July 31, 2020

WisDOT began work on its newest state rail plan in June 2020 with the release of the Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050 Notice of Intent. The Notice of Intent is used to get feedback from the public about what generally will be included in the Rail Plan.

The plan will use existing policies from other WisDOT plans and Connect 2050, Wisconsin’s multimodal long-range transportation plan currently under development. Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050 will meet all federal and state long-range rail transportation planning requirements, including those of the Federal Railroad Administration.  

Plan contents

The Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050 will include policies for railroad crossings, freight rail, Wisconsin’s state-owned rail system, long distance passenger rail, intercity rail, and commuter rail. The plan will specifically discuss rail data trends, existing and possible future service levels, rail system conditions, and commodity freight movements. Future rail-related improvements or plans will be outlined in a user-friendly format.  
WisDOT will consider environmental issues throughout the planning process. A System-plan Environmental Evaluation will be conducted if major or substantial changes to WisDOT’s policies or resources would result from the plan’s implementation.
The plan will include an environmental justice (EJ) analysis. The EJ analysis will present the plan’s potential impacts on racial minority populations, low-income populations, persons age 65 and older and households with no vehicles. The analysis in the plan is general and offers a starting point for more specific analysis that will be done when any project is implemented.

Public involvement

Public participation is encouraged throughout the planning process. WisDOT seeks public input, service provider comment, and focused stakeholder involvement from the freight rail industry, state and federal environmental resource agencies, and tribal governments. A complete public involvement plan is being developed and will be provided to the public for comment soon. 
Please follow the planning process through updates to this webpage.
Comments or questions on the Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050 initial plan scope, plan requirements, or to request hard copies of the website materials should be sent by July 31, 2020 to WIRailPlan2050@dot.wi.gov. Written comments can be mailed to:

WisDOT Bureau of Planning and Economic Development
c/o Diane Paoni
P.O. Box 7913
Madison, WI 53707​


Diane Paoni, Bureau of Planning and Economic Development
Division of Transportation Investment Management
(608) 266-1402