Friday, June 29, 2012

Illinois will provide $8.6 million for Springfield HSR corridor

Illinois will provide $8.6 million for Springfield HSR corridor Illinois Department of Transportation

The state of Illinois has made a $8.6 million commitment toward the Phase II engineering studies on high-speed rail service on a consolidated 10th Street corridor through Springfield, should that be the chosen corridor in the Record of Decision. The planned commitment coincides with the Federal Railroad Administration's approval to release Draft Environmental Impact Statements on future enhancements to the Chicago-to-St. Louis high-speed route currently under construction.

"Our investments in high-speed rail and transportation create jobs, foster economic development and promote economic growth while moving people swiftly and safely across our state as people should expect in the 21st Century," Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said. "Our commitment to provide additional funding for engineering work demonstrates that we are moving quickly to complete high-speed rail service from Chicago to St. Louis."

The planned funding commitment, available through Governor Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! capital plan, will assist the city of Springfield in developing design plans for improvements to the corridor, assuming it is ultimately selected for the new high-speed rail service. Ridership on Amtrak's four state-supported routes in Illinois has doubled over the past five years to 1.75 million passengers, with a 210- percent increase on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor alone, from 133,036 in 2006 to 412,593 in 2011.

The DEIS shows only two remaining "build alternative" routes being considered for high-speed rail service through Springfield, both of which are along 10th Street. The Tier 1 DEIS focuses on double-tracking the entire line, while the Tier 2 DEIS pinpoints two alternatives on 10th Street corridor as the finalists for high-speed service through Springfield.

In addition, as part of this agreement, interim safety improvements will be made to the existing 3rd Street corridor, mainly involving the addition of quad gates that close all lanes of traffic at a railroad crossing, preventing cars from driving around closed gates. This $30-million package of improvements will enable passenger trains to increase their speed from the current 25 mph to a maximum of 40 mph.

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