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Monday, January 18, 2010

Illinois hosts rail transportation summit

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On Jan. 15, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn joined Assistant U.S. Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to speak at "Beyond Transportation: The Economic Impact of Rail in Illinois." The summit was dedicated to bringing together stakeholders in government, economic development and private industry to improve rail infrastructure and create jobs in Illinois.

"I am committed to making Illinois an inland port that is the hub of rail transportation, not only for the Midwest, but for the nation," said Gov. Quinn. "This summit will us achieve that important goal, generating much-needed economic development and creating jobs."

Governor Quinn partnered with Northwestern University's Transportation Center and the Environmental Law & Policy Center to chair the event, which gathered experts from across the country for a rail policy and economic development dialogue.

"Governor Quinn and I have worked side by side from day one to demonstrate Illinois' commitment to high-speed rail and the rail industry as a whole," said Durbin. "One of the most important contributions the freight and passenger rail industries provide to Illinois is good-paying jobs that support families and help pay for college. For that reason and many others, we need to invest in rail as we strengthen our nation's economy. The discussions and ideas shared will help keep Illinois at the forefront of the railroad renaissance we're currently undergoing."

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Administrator Joseph Szabo of the Federal Railroad Administration keynoted the event. Attending industry experts hosted several panel discussions on local development, sustainability, manufacturing and connectivity in the global economy.

"Illinois has been America's rail hub for more than a century, yet we must constantly improve and expand capacity for both goods and passengers to ensure that rail remains a robust engine for economic growth and energy conservation," said Administrator Szabo.

Developing high-speed rail and improving current rail infrastructure are among Governor Quinn's top priorities. Illinois has submitted two rounds of applications for stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for high-speed passenger rail.

Additionally, through the Illinois Jobs Now! plan, the state is poised to make the largest investment in rail infrastructure in Illinois' history.

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