Chicago Sun-Times
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Chicago-St. Louis high speed rail corridor in line for $1.1 billion from Obama

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BY MARY WISNIEWSKI AND LYNN SWEET Staff Reporters

Illinois will get $1.1 billion to make track improvements to enable 110 mph passenger trains between Chicago and St. Louis, under a new federal stimulus plan to be announced Thursday by President Obama.


Coming off of his job-focused State of the Union address, Obama is expected to award $8 billion in stimulus funds to create high-speed rail corridors and sell the program as a jobs creator. He plans to announce grants for 21 states.


"An investment of this magnitude could not have come at a better time for Illinois," said Illinois Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete). "I hope to see these funds putting people to work as soon as possible."

The federal funds will be used to overhaul track, signal systems and existing stations. The Amtrak route includes Springfield and Bloomington-Normal. Increasing speeds from 79 mph to 110 mph would shave about 90 minutes off the five-and-a-half hour trip from Chicago to St. Louis.

Illinois officials had asked for about $4.3 billion. States have asked for more than six times more money than was available.

"It just shows there is huge demand and interest around the country for high speed rail," said Brian Imus, head of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group.

The biggest winner in the high-speed rail sweepstakes was California, which will get $2.3 billion for projects that include new track construction, not just improvements to existing routes.

The Illinois application was submitted in concert with applications from neighboring states, as part of a proposed eight-state rail network.

Other Midwestern projects that will get money include $822 million for Wisconsin, to upgrade routes between Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison.

The funding package includes $244 million for station and other improvements between Detroit/Pontiac and Chicago.

The grants expected to be awarded Thursday will define which projects get off to a fast start. But billions more will be required to complete the planned high-speed corridors. There is also $50 billion for high-speed rail funding in the proposed transportation reauthorization bill, noted U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Chicago), who has pushed for the bill's passage.

"The first steps are upgrading the existing track," said Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. "Both Illinois and Wisconsin have very solid proposals. My hope is that Obama will make a clear statement that the goal is to have 220 mph trains operating in the Midwest."

Contributing: AP

10 Comments

I am very pleased with what I have been reading about the massive stimulus package (787 Billion )I have to admit when I first heard of the amt. I was really skeptical. Now that I have read about the various assistance to different states to help their econ. & employment with new massive projects helping with their mass transportation needs I am starting to see the benefit. Thankyou William Smith

220mph trains would be TOTALLY cool, but a part of me wonders what would happen when they confront an earthquake, tornado, or judiciously placed hunk of metal on tracks. :D
Ok, a 220mph train would REALLY make a statement to the rest of the world.

Not to be negative but I hope the plan includes improving automobile crossing areas. There have been a few Amtrak and automobile accidents in the past 10 years along the Chicago/St. Louis route. I don't have a magic crystal ball but I bet that more accidents will happen in the future. Add a train going 100mph to the equation and you can expect a terrible disaster. There needs to be a way to take the human element out of the equation (people trying to beat trains to the crossing, ignoring crossing guards, etc). One way would be to elevate automobile crossings. Just something to think about.

110MPH is high speed??

Marvin8: The Japanese Shinkensen trains and their railways are as you'd expect built to withstand earthquakes and the trains to halt immediately. In 40 years of operation they have had only one failure, in 2004, and there were no fatalities.
High Speed Railways are generally enclosed in someway, either elevated or sunken or securely fenced off.
chicago britt: the international standard for High Speed Rail is train that averages a minimum of 200km/h, this 110mph upgrade will be only 177km/h.

With unemployment at 10% and all those idle factories in the mid-west this could big a boon, but more likely the trains will be built in Canada or Europe or Japan.

We have amtrak running past our house...will these high speed trains run through residential areas?

I wonder what the potential ridership would look like? St. Louis has a light rail system that basically shuttles homeless people and food service personel around what passes for its urban core. In 16 years of its existance it has not caught on with commuters on a large scale. This just seems like a boondoggle as opposed to a serious option to improve transportation options in the Midwest,especially since it is not going to be a true high speed rail system like you would find in Europe or Japan. St. Louis' economy is in such a state that it no longer has any major banks or corporte headquarters anymore so this would not make business sense since there is little reason business related travel to St. Louis. So maybe route from Chicago to a justifiable destination should be explored also.

St Louis has a ton of corporate HQ's. And our urban core, as you put it, is rapidly growing.

I live in St.Louis and go to college in Chicago. This would be a godsend. An increase in job opportunites on both sides would be nice, too.

The Big Importance of the Chicago-St. Louis Line would be as a Shuttle for Chicagoland to avail itself of the Deep South of Illinois as a way of making it Self-sufficient in Food...to improve the Health & Fitness of all its High-schoolers...& to do something that Mayor Daley was never able to do within the confines of the Chicago City Limits...reduce Gun Violence.

Every Chicagoland High-school would have a Boarding House/Houses that would accommodate 40 Boys or 40 Girls for 12 Days...once during the Fall Semester & once again in the Spring Semester.

These Rural Properties away from Paved Roads & near scenic Hiking Trails would offer Six Days of 10 Mile Hikes & Six Days of 20 Mile Hikes. At the 14 to 18-year Age Group, this Regimen can produce most wondrous Results.

The Counties, listed with their County Seats where the Chicago High Schools would have their Hiking Camps would be


Chicago-Belleville, St. Clair County
Nashville, Washington County
Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County
Greenville, Bond County
Edwardsville, Madison County
Carlyle, Clinton County


The tonier Suburbs of Chicago...having a lot more money than the Chicago Public School System...in addition to the Hiking Camps would establish Standard-spec Plantations for gainful Summer Employment...partnering with the Local Governments...rich in Outskirts, but otherwise not well-to-do, to establish Standard-spec Municipal Plantations

1. 160 Acres(64 Ha) of Arable Ground

2. 18-Agricultural Fairways

3. 20,000 Woody Plants


4. 40 Acres (16 Ha) in Vegetables

5. More or less 200 animals, including Six Equines

6. Flower Beds & Artistic Landscaping

7. Associated Canning Facility with its own Registered Brand & Label

8. Mess Hall that seats 200 Sharecroppers/Shareholders... the basic work-force for a Municipal Plantation

9. Trailer Office, Tool Shed & Toilet Facilities

10. 5000 Gallon Tank-Truck

11. An adopted, rare genotype or species of plant & another of animal...all protected under Park Martial Law.

12. Self-sufficiency in electricity.


1...Barrington-Albion, Edwards County
2...Deerfield-Benton, Franklin County
3...Evanston-Cairo, Alexander County
4...Flossmoor-Carmi, White County
5...Glencoe-Chester, Randolph County
6...Highland Park-Elizabethtown, Hardin County
7...Hinsdale-Fairfield, Wayne County
8...Kenilworth-Golconda, Pope County
9...Lake Forest-Harrisburg, Saline County
10..Lake Zurich-Jonesboro, Union County
11..Libertyville-Marion, Williamson County
12..Lincolnshire-Mcleansboro, Hamilton County
13..Naperville-Metropolis, Massac County
14..North Brook-Mound City, Pulaski County
15..Oak Brook-Mount Carmel, Wabash County
16..Palatine-Murphysboro, Jackson County
17..River Forest-Pinckneyville, Perry County
18..Schaumburg-Shawneetown, Gallatin County
19..Wilmette-Vienna, Johnson County
20..Winnetka-Waterloo, Monroe County

Produce, Fresh & Canned would have Most-favored Status in Chicago...delivered, of course, by Rail

There are two Reasons...a Good Reason & the Real Reason for these Little Egyptian High School Redoubts.

A Good Reason is that Illinois...Acre for Acre one of the richest stretches of Real Estate on Earth, populated by a Citizenry with a Work Ethic second to None, will soon be going Bankrupt...at which time self-sufficiency in Food will be a Big Thing

The Real Reason us to give Chicagoans the "Real Illini Accent"..."Y'all goin' anywhere in partic'lar?" for example...or "How 'bout them Redbirds?" (None of this "Youse Guys" & "Da Bearss")

As for the Train itself, I would say that a Cruising Speed of 90 mph gives one more time to enjoy the scenery than 110mph..& also that the Locomotive should run on Illinois-grown, Cannabis Oil.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 28, 2010 6:37 AM.

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