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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Illinois approves $45 million for Quad Cities passenger rail

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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn visited Moline, Ill, Jan. 30 to announce $45 million in state capital funds to establish passenger rail service from Chicago to the Quad Cities. The new service will result in up to 825 new jobs, including 440 construction jobs.

"This week, we were happy to receive $1.2 billion in federal money for high-speed rail that will take travelers between Chicago and St. Louis," said Governor Quinn. "Now we want to make sure people can travel from Chicago to Moline and beyond. This new line is going to connect Chicago to the western part of our state, create jobs and bring more visitors to the Quad Cities."

The Quad Cities have not had passenger rail service since the late 1970s. Under the new service, two daily round trips will transport passengers to and from the Quad Cities in just over three hours. The Chicago-to-Quad Cities project is one leg of a planned passenger train service extension that would connect west to Iowa City, Iowa and on to Omaha, Nebraska.

"It is important that we continue to invest in our state's rail system," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. "We hope to get this project started this year and are very excited about what the future holds for passenger rail in Illinois."

The Quad Cities project was developed in cooperation with the state of Iowa as a "green" demonstration project, in which various environmentally friendly initiatives in construction, operations and local development will be used. These initiatives include running the trains using biofuels, using recycled materials where possible in construction, using organic foods and environmentally friendly packaging in food services, installing "green" station upgrades to lower utility costs and increase efficiencies and encouraging pedestrian-friendly development around rail stations to reduce vehicle trips, among other improvements.

The funding for this passenger rail project is part of Illinois Jobs Now!, a job generation and capital improvement program that will revive the state's ailing economy by creating and retaining over 439,000 jobs over six years.

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