Of course it’s all well and good to apply for federal stimulus money to try and get your state’s rapid rail dream built. But the federal government being what it is, they’re likely to look more kindly on states that are substantially committing their own resources to the project. The Midwest HSR Association must have pulled off some successful lobbying in Springfield, because here’s a snippet from them:
With the governor’s signature of the capital bill, Illinois becomes a national leader in high speed rail. The $850
million for rail infrastructure in the legislation is the largest state capital investment in railroads in the nation
outside of California.
By making its own investment in high-speed rail, Illinois is solidifying its chances of receiving a larger portion
of the $8 billion high-speed rail federal funds under the stimulus.
The legislation signed today provides not only $400 million for high-speed rail and $150 million for Amtrak-
related improvements, but, $300 million for CREATE, which will address many of the bottlenecks in and around
Chicago that have plagued freight and passenger trains nationwide.
These funds will be used for immediate construction work on already planned projects such as the 110 mph St.
Louis-Chicago rail line, and Amtrak extensions to Rockford-Galena, the Quad Cities and other initiatives.
Good news certainly, although I’m a bit curious about parts of the money being appropriated specifically for the 110mph Chicago-St. Louis line. Did someone trip on the red tape and forget about the 220mph proposal?
UPDATE: Rick Harnish from the Midwest HSR Association very kindly cleared up the 110mph-220mph confusion for us in the comments:
We didn’t forget about the 220-mph proposal. In fact, we are excited that the Illinois DOT submitted a pre-application for planning money for the 220-mph proposal.
110-mph and 220-mph lines are not mutually exclusive, they serve different purposes and different markets.
The press release you quoted was designed to celebrate a major win and to provide background on how the money might be spent.
The 110-mph line in Illinois is a critical project. It will link downstate IL to Chicago & St. Louis. It will also be a testing ground for operating fast, frequent and dependable trains on heavy haul freight lines and provide valuable lessons that can be applied nationwide.