Rail project timeline

2006 March Union Pacific terminates service to three Sheboygan Falls businesses – Bemis Mfg., Richardson Building Products and Kettle-Lakes Cooperative – and abandons rail spur from Sheboygan to Sheboygan Falls. November Wisconsin Department of Transportation reaches verbal agreement to purchase unused rail line from Plymouth to Sheboygan Falls from the UP for $1 million.

2007 March More than five dozen residents of developments along the dormant Plymouth-Sheboygan Falls rail line express their opposition to the restoration at a public meeting with local, state and federal officials.

2008 October Ken Lucht, community development manager for the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad – which would operate a restored Plymouth-Sheboygan Falls rail line – tells the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce that things are on schedule to completely reconstruct the 11-mile line.

2009 May The DOT completes the purchase of the dormant Plymouth Sheboygan Falls rail line from the UP for $994,000. DOT officials estimate the cost of restoring the line at $15 million. July The WSOR issues a request for proposals to cut and clear brush along the Plymouth-Sheboygan Falls rail line. October Plymouth Mayor Donald Pohlman informs a public meeting on the rail line restoration that the state has proposed bonding for $12 million of the projected $15 million cost, leaving local communities to provide the rest. He proposes that the city front $3 million to the WSOR to be repaid through a $10 per car tax on trains going through the city.

2010 August Sheboygan County submits an application for a $12 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II federal stimulus grant for the rail line restoration after the city of Plymouth is unwilling to provide $3 million toward the $15 million project. Of the remaining $3 million projected cost, the DOT has committed to cover $2.4 million and the rest would be split between the WSOR, local businesses and local municipalities. October Federal officials fail to approve the county’s application for a $12 million TIGER II grant for the rail line restoration.

2011 March - The Sheboygan County Board approves a $100,000 contribution to the local match portion of the project. Other commitments include: WSOR, $850,000; city of Plymouth, $400,000; city of Sheboygan Falls, $250,000; Bemis Mfg., $200,000; Kettle Lakes Cooperative, $100,000; Glacier Transit and Storage, $40,000; Service One Corp., $20,000; King Structures Inc., $20,000; Morrelle Transfer and Warehouse, $20,000. December WSOR President Bill Gardner tells a stakeholders meeting that the projected cost for the restoration has risen to $19.2 million. DOT officials say the state’s $12 million commitment through the Freight Rail Infrastructure Improvement Program is still on the table. The Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp. has applied for a $1 million Transportation Economic Assistance program grant for the project. Gardner says the WSOR has a commitment from the UP to sell the line from Kohler to Sheboygan – an extension of the Plymouth-Sheboygan Falls line – to the WSOR. November Watco Transportation Services of Kansas announces plans to buy a controlling interest in the WSOR.

2012 January Lucht says pending sale of WSOR to Watco “will have no effect upon the projects in Sheboygan County.” May Lucht tells a stakeholders meeting that brush cutting work along the line will begin this month and take about four weeks to complete.

2013 August Ben Guido of Via Rail Logistics, the firm managing the restoration project for the DOT and WSOR, provides a timeline for the project showing completion by the end of July, 2014.

2014 December After some delays and with removal of old rails and ties complete, an informational meeting for bidders on the final reconstruction of the Plymouth-Sheboygan Falls rail lines draws representatives from two dozen potential contractors.

2015 February North Shore Track Service of Duluth, Minn., is the low bidder and is awarded the contract for final restoration of the Plymouth-Sheboygan Falls rail line for $17.1 million, lower than the estimated cost of $19 million. March With work already underway on several bridges along the line, local and state officials and private stakeholders hold a groundbreaking ceremony at Plymouth’s depot for the 11-mile Plymouth-Sheboygan Falls rail line restoration.

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