$1 bil. for Illi­nois high-speed rail

Fed­eral money to state in­cludes quicker rides to St. Louis

Chicago Sun-Times - - News - BY MARY WISNIEWSKI AND LYNN SWEET

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 to­day by Pres­i­dent Obama.

Com­ing off 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 U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvor­son.

The fed­eral funds will be used to over­haul track, sig- nal 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 5oe­hour trip from Chicago to St. Louis.

The big­gest win­ner in the high-speed rail sweep­stakes is Cal­i­for­nia, which will get $2.3 bil­lion.

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 to­day will de­fine which projects get off to a fast start. But bil­lions more will be re­quired to com­plete the planned high-speed cor­ri­dors.

Con­tribut­ing: AP

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