$1 bil. for Illinois high-speed rail
Federal money to state includes quicker rides to St. Louis
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.