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Wisconsin board rejects Canadian Pacific compensation claim for work on high-speed rail

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MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin Claims Board on Tuesday rejected Canadian Pacific Railway's request for more than half a million dollars for helping develop a high-speed rail plan before Gov. Scott Walker killed the project.

The board's decision said the railroad failed to show how the state was negligent. If the railroad wants to pursue payment it should take its arguments to court, the decision said.

Canadian Pacific's attorney, Brian Baird, said in an email to The Associated Press late Tuesday afternoon he hadn't seen the decision.

The railroad wants $500,715 for work performed in 2009 and 2010 to help Wisconsin prepare a bid for federal funding to build the line between Madison and Milwaukee. The railroad's attorney, Brian Baird, told the board at a hearing this month that Canadian Pacific workers developed construction plans and depot designs and even moved into the state Department of Transportation offices to help the agency. But Walker, a Republican, scrapped the project shortly after he won election to his first term in 2010, saying the line would be too expensive to maintain. Canadian Pacific was never paid.

Transportation officials argued they owe the railroad nothing because it never entered into a written contact with the state. Baird has said the railroad undertook the work without a deal in place because then-Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, had asked for help and the company wanted to be a corporate citizen. Democrats had touted the line as a major job creator and were pushing to get work underway ahead of the 2010 election.

The denial marks the third time the board has rejected claims connected to work on the high-speed line.

Last year the board denied Wisconsin & Southern Railroad's claim for $160,000 for work it did to prepare to share its tracks from Madison to Milwaukee before Walker pulled the plug.

This past spring the board rejected a $66 million claim by train manufacturer Talgo Inc. The state had agreed to buy at least two train sets for the high-speed line from Talgo; the company claimed the state failed to live up to its purchase agreement and Walker repeatedly acted in bad faith. The state has countered that Talgo never completed the cars and never delivered them despite begin paid $40 million. Talgo has filed a lawsuit against the state.

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