SPRINGFIELD –The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) today was joined by officials from the City of Springfield to announce a planned $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 (FRA)’s approval to release Draft Environmental Impact Statements (DEIS) on future enhancements to the Chicago-to-St. Louis high-speed route currently under construction. IDOT is committed to helping the City of Springfield identify and secure other revenue sources to help pay for construction as the project moves forward.
“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,” Governor 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 last five years to 1.75 million passengers, with a remarkable 210 percent increase on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor alone, from 133,036 in 2006 to 412,593 in 2011.
“I fully support the 10th Street Corridor choice and the preliminary environmental approval by IDOT. Governor Quinn’s commitment of $8.6 million will help to complete engineering,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “But understand the overall project will cost in excess of $300 million and will require an extraordinary level of cooperation to achieve. I stand ready to continue to support rail modernization and work to bring federal funds to Springfield to make it a reality.”
The DEIS released today 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.
“We are pleased to offer our support and partner with the City of Springfield to take the first major step to implement future high-speed rail service in the area,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “Once a final decision is made for the Springfield corridor, we hope our financial commitment to pay a percentage of the project design costs will move the construction process forward.”
A series of statewide public hearings, including one in Springfield, will be held by IDOT and the FRA in August to seek comments on the DEIS documents. For a copy of the DEIS and a schedule for the upcoming public hearings, please visit www.idothsr.org. The final version of the EIS will be published by the FRA later this year following consideration of public and agency comments.
“With this funding commitment and our partnership with the State, I am excited for the next phase of high-speed rail to move forward,” City of Springfield Mayor Mike Houston said. “As we’re seeing the demand for rail ridership increasing, it’s very important that this upgrade occurs and that this project succeeds.”
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, thus 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, the most they will be on 3rd Street.
Under the leadership of Governor Quinn, Illinois has received more than $1.4 billion in federal funding to develop high-speed service between Chicago and St. Louis, greatly reducing travel times between the two cities and creating about 6,200 direct and indirect jobs. The Governor’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program has contributed $42 million toward construction. The first trains traveling at 110 mph will make their debut between Dwight and Pontiac in September. Upgrades to the Joliet-Alton portion of the corridor are expected to be complete in 2014.