WISCONSINREPORT.COM (05/19/08) - Governor Jim Doyle has announced the appointment of State Senator Roger Breske of Eland, Wisconsin as the new Commissioner of Railroads. Breske’s term will begin June 4, 2008 and expire on March 1, 2011. Breske will leave the State Senate after 18 years to take the job as Commissioner of Railroads. Senator Breske will supervise five staffers in his new position. The office oversees a variety of highway rail crossing issues involving more than 4,000 crossings over public roadways throughout Wisconsin. Democrat Breske's appointment leaves the 12th State Senate District without an incumbent.
“Roger Breske has been a fine public servant for the past 18 years serving in the State Senate,” Governor Doyle said. “With his experience as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation, he will continue to serve the residents of Wisconsin well by ensuring the safety of the railroads in this state.”
"I have been extremely honored to represent the 12th Senate District as State Senator for the past 18 years. Until this opportunity was presented to me, I had every intention to seek election to my sixth term as Senator. I appreciate the faith Governor Doyle has in appointing me as Wisconsin’s Commissioner of Railroads," Senator Breske stated.
State Senator Roger Breske was first elected to the State Senate in a special election in 1990. Senator Breske currently serves as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Tourism. In addition, he serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities and Rail. Senator Breske also serves on the Governor’s Council on Highway Safety, Governor’s Council on Tourism, and the Rustic Roads Board.
"As Chairman or member of the Senate Transportation Committee for most of my tenure, I came to appreciate and fully understand the importance of a strong, efficient and dependable transportation system – our roads, harbors, airports and rails. Without this lifeline throughout the state, especially rural areas, job creation and recreational opportunities suffer," Breske explained.
Senator Breske has served his country in the United States Army on both active duty and as a member of the Army Reserve. He is currently an active member of AmVets and the Civil Air Patrol of Wisconsin. Breske and his wife, Karen, live in Eland and have four children and 13 grandchildren.
"I now move forward to serve the public in a different capacity. My gratefulness reaches into the new opportunities I will have to continue to work with the local units of government and people and business in Wisconsin to improve and maintain Wisconsin’s critical rail system," Breske said.
Created in 1993 and funded by assessments on railroad companies, the Office of the Commissioner of Railroads (OCR) is the only state agency with statutory responsibility and legal jurisdiction to investigate the safety of roadway/railway crossings in Wisconsin. It has the legal jurisdiction and the responsibility for determining the level of protection and the adequacy of protection needed for each roadway/railway crossing.
"This new position I have been appointed to feels like a natural fit. As Commissioner of Railroads, I will continue to work with towns, villages, cities and counties as I strive to maintain and improve rail lines. Safety at crossings is a high priority for me. Even though transportation systems have been modernized with other forms, rail continues to link raw materials and finished products to our people and industries," Breske pointed out.
In partnership with private rail firms, local governments and citizens, OCR oversees a variety of highway/rail crossing issues including:
Replacement or enhancement of passive and active warning devices at highway/rail crossings; Repair of rough highway/rail crossing surfaces; Installation of highway/rail crossings at new locations; Alteration of existing highway/rail crossings; and Closing or consolidating existing highway/rail crossings.
The State of Wisconsin has jurisdiction over 4,255 public roadway/railway crossings. A large percentage of these crossings are located on roads in the state with lower levels of traffic. The OCR employs five people and the Commissioner is appointed to six-year terms.
"I thank my legislative colleagues for their assistance and guidance over the years. While the Legislature can be too partisan and often harsh place, there are wonderful people there who do their best to serve the common good," Breske said.
"I am especially appreciative of my colleague, Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, for his friendship over the years. I have had the good fortune of working with highly qualified and caring legislators, and under some very helpful and educational leadership," Breske continued.
"And, finally, my sincere thanks and appreciation to the people throughout the Northwoods and the 12th Senate District for having the confidence in me these past 18 years. I look forward to my continued public service to the people of Wisconsin," Breske said.