Posts Tagged ‘Mississippi River’

Illinois, Minnesota continue high-speed rail planning; Madison bypassed

Planning continues for a high-speed train through Wisconsin. The Federal Railroad Administration announced a final route yesterday for a line from Chicago to Minnesota’s Twin Cities. It would follow the Amtrak routes from Chicago to Milwaukee to La Crosse, and would then follow the Mississippi River in Minnesota to Saint Paul. Other routes have been scrapped — including one to put the line through central Wisconsin and Eau Claire. A line to Madison is also ruled out.


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Governor Quinn, Senators Durbin, Kirk Announce $268 Million For High Speed Rail Cars In Illinois

Illinois receives $454 million from rejected Florida funds; will benefit from additional $210 million investment in Midwest Rail

CHICAGO – May 9, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn joined with U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) in announcing that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $268 million in high speed rail funding to Illinois for the purchase of 48 new passenger rail cars and 7 locomotives that will be equipped to travel at high speeds.

Today’s funding comes from the $2 billion that was rejected by the governor of Florida earlier this year.  It is in addition to the $186 million announced last week to finance track and other improvements on the Chicago to St. Louis corridor between Dwight and Joliet. Illinois will also benefit from another $210 million in funding for high speed rail improvements within the Chicago Hub Network.

High speed rail funding is more than just creating short-term construction jobs. Every dollar we spend on rail produces $3 in economic output,” said Durbin, a Co-Chair and founding member of the Bi-Cameral High- Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Caucus. “With today’s announcement, we are continuing to invest in infrastructure that will keep the businesses we have and attract new businesses and industries to Illinois in the future.  I hope these new passenger rail cars will be built right here in our state.”

“Investing in track upgrades is only one part of implementing high speed rail projects,” said Kirk. “These funds will be used to purchase new railcars and equipment for eight corridors serving Illinois and neighboring states, and move forward efforts to replace a bridge over the Mississippi River. Illinois’ strong position as a rail hub will continue with these needed resources.”

“Illinois is committed to building an integrated, regional high-speed rail network and this investment in rail cars will continue to advance this goal,” said Governor Quinn. “As the hub of the Midwest’s high-speed rail system, we will continue to utilize federal and state dollars to create jobs, ensuring that fast, reliable and clean rail transportation is a reality and continuing our economic recovery.”

The new rail cars and locomotives will replace aging and obsolete Amtrak equipment with new cars that add capacity to help accommodate projected increases in ridership, improve operational reliability, reduce operating costs, achieve a good state of repair and promote standardization of rail cars. Two additional projects that will benefit travelers to and from Chicago received a total of $210 million today:

  • Track improvements along the Chicago to Detroit route – $196.5 million to develop the Michigan-Kalamazoo-Dearborn service by rehabilitating track and signal systems, bringing trains up to speeds of 110 mph on a 235-mile section of the Chicago to Detroit corridor, reducing trip times by 30 minutes.
  • Bridge Replacement on the Chicago to St. Louis route – $13.5 million to advance the design of a new bridge over the Mississippi River on the Chicago to St. Louis Corridor, replacing a bridge – Merchant’s Bridge – built in the 1890s.

Last month, Durbin and Kirk led a group of Illinois Congressional Delegation members in expressing support for Illinois’ application for the federal funding for high speed rail projects that was rejected by the governor of Florida.  In their letter to the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, the members stressed the importance of the Chicago to St. Louis route as the backbone of the Midwest passenger rail system. Members signing on to that letter included: Durbin, Kirk, Representatives Jerry Costello (D-IL), Don Manzullo (R-IL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL).

One year ago, the entire Illinois Congressional delegation wrote to LaHood to communicate their belief that Illinois provides the best opportunity to invest in high speed rail. Since then, the Department of Transportation has awarded over $1.4 billion in high speed rail funding to Illinois, including funding for the CREATE project, new rail service from Chicago to the Quad Cities and implementing 110 mph service on the Chicago to St. Louis  line. Last December, Illinois received $42.3 million in high speed rail funding that was rejected by the governors of Ohio and Wisconsin.

In 2009, Durbin, Kirk and all members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation asked the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, to support their effort to revive the passenger rail car manufacturing industry in Illinois. The domestic railcar giant Pullman Company provided a strong manufacturing base for over a hundred years in Illinois, providing rail cars that are still on the tracks today. But those companies have long since closed their doors and left the business of making passenger rail cars, due in part, to years of underinvestment in the U.S. and increased investment by European countries.


Governor Quinn Announces Major Agreement to Advance High-Speed Rail in Illinois

Commitment Will Create More Than 6,000 Jobs, Begin Next Phase of Construction on Chicago-St. Louis Corridor
CHICAGO – March 22, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $685 million agreement to begin construction on the next phase of high-speed rail between Chicago and St. Louis. The federally funded project will create an estimated 6,200 direct and indirect jobs and move Illinois one step closer to faster trains and improved service along its signature high-speed route. Governor Quinn was joined at today’s announcement by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, railroad workers and suppliers, Union Pacific Railroad officials, and federal, state, and local leaders.

“Today’s agreement marks another major step towards making high-speed rail a reality in Illinois,” said Governor Quinn. “Bringing high-speed rail to Illinois has been a top priority of my administration because of the thousands of jobs and long-term investment it will bring to our state. This important partnership with the Union Pacific Railroad and the Obama administration will boost our efforts to make Illinois the high-speed rail hub of the Midwest.”

Today’s announcement allows for the construction of new rail track using concrete ties between Dwight and Lincoln, as well as between Alton and the Mississippi River, along with the installation of a modernized signal system between Dwight and Alton. Construction will begin on April 5 and is funded through $1.2 billion in federal funding awarded to Illinois to expand passenger rail. Illinois is showing its financial commitment by providing more than $42 million in state capital funding.

“High-speed rail is more than just an alternative mode of travel – it is a shot in the arm to today’s recovering economy, and an investment in infrastructure that will serve us for generations to come,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said. ”With Chicago as its hub, the Midwest high-speed rail network will create an estimated $23.1 billion in economic activity and create 6,000 jobs over the next ten years. That economic boost is already being felt in and around Alton, where construction began several months ago. The federally funded construction agreement announced today kick starts the next phase of the project and ushers in more than $650 million of construction, and an estimated 6,200 jobs, starting this summer.”

“Passenger and freight rail have played a central role in making Chicago and the Midwest a great place to live and work,” said Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “The construction made possible by the agreement announced today will help Illinois achieve a robust 21st Century transportation network that promotes economic growth and helps meet the region’s future mobility needs.”

Construction of the entire Chicago-to-St. Louis line is anticipated to ultimately create and retain 24,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout the state. The first phase of the line – a $98-million upgrade of tracks between Lincoln and Alton – was launched in September, making Illinois the first state to break ground under the federal initiative to develop a Midwest high-speed rail network.

Construction work directly implemented by the UP will be built by members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way and Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen under their national contracts with the railroad. A large majority of workers under these contracts are expected to be hired from Illinois. In addition, more than $650 million of the total $1.2 billion federal grant will go to competitively-selected contractors. To assist firms seeking to become qualified to bid on the work, the UP will host an event after the Chicago Business Opportunity Fair on April 20 at Chicago’s Navy Pier for those interested potential contractors.

The first trains traveling at 110 mph on the Chicago-to-St. Louis line will make their debut between Dwight and Pontiac as early as next year. Upgrades to the entire Dwight-Alton portion of the corridor are expected to be complete by 2014. The state also is conducting a study on the feasibility of bringing 220-mph service to Illinois.

“We are proud to be leaders on a project that will reduce congestion, benefit the environment and spark economic development,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig said. “We will see the returns on our efforts to develop the Chicago-to-St. Louis high-speed corridor for years to come.”

In December, the Illinois Department of Transportation started a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement to study the potential for a second set of tracks between Chicago and St. Louis and to identify the preferred route for trains between Chicago and Joliet. Another component is an analysis of the best path of the line through Springfield. The study is expected to be completed in 2012.

RAW TAPE: Governor announces major high speed rail agreement. Speakers include Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

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