CHICAGO - July 20, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that construction will begin in early September on the Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail route. An agreement between the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Union Pacific Railroad will allow upgrades to be made on an initial 90-mile segment of Union Pacific track to prepare it for high-speed rail. The $98 million dollar project is funded through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and will support an estimated 900 jobs.
“Today’s announcement will create hundreds of jobs and is a major step towards making high-speed rail a reality in Illinois,” said Governor Quinn. “When the corridor is completed, travelers will be able to move from Chicago to St. Louis in under four hours, making Illinois the high-speed rail hub of the Midwest.”
Construction will begin in early September on a 90-mile segment that extends from just north of Alton to south of Springfield. It then resumes just north of Springfield to south of Lincoln. A study is currently being conducted to determine the best route through Springfield. Track upgrades will include the installation of new, high-speed rail and concrete ties. Work could be completed as early as December 2010.
“Beginning construction on a high-speed rail line in Illinois this fall brings with it not only the promise of quicker travel between great cities like St. Louis and Chicago, but also hundreds of construction jobs in our state,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “More than that, in every community along the corridor there will soon be a chance for greater economic development. If there was ever a moment in our history that we needed to create good paying jobs and spur economic development, it’s this moment.”
In January, the Obama administration announced that Illinois was awarded $1.2 billion in ARRA funds for high-speed passenger rail - one of only three states to receive an award of more than $1 billion. Illinois was among 31 states chosen to receive a total of $8 billion that President Obama made available for high-speed passenger rail. Overall federal investment in high-speed rail is expected to create 6,000 jobs in Illinois.
Illinois’ high-speed rail signature route, Chicago to St. Louis, received $1.1 billion for corridor improvements. The improvements will allow passenger rail service from Chicago to St. Louis to operate at speeds up to 110 mph and include: new locomotives and passenger cars, rebuilding of track, additional signaling devices at grade crossings, and implementation of state-of-the-art signal technology.
In addition, $1.25 million in federal funding will be used to complete an environmental impact study for a second track along the same route to increase daily frequencies and $133 million to build the Englewood Flyover on Chicago’s South Side, a Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) project to clear rail bottlenecks and eliminate significant delays for commuter, inter-city and freight trains.