Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

How to increase your state’s chances of getting federal HSR money (Illinois knows) – UPDATED

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.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, United States High Speed Rail

7 Responses

  1. I’d bet it’s easier to get the old GM&O line via Springfield and The Milwaukee Road south of the Cheddar Curtain up to 110 in the current election cycle. The 220 proposal, EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN involves several railroads and a lot more groundwork. Keep in mind the “shovel-ready” criterion in the legislation. That means all the environmental paperwork is on file someplace. That’s true of the Chicago- Milwaukee-Madison and the Alton Route, where sporadic infrastructure improvements have been under way for some time.

  2. Rick Harnish says:

    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.

    It is also urgent that we begin developing 220-mph trunk lines now. Only 220-mph trains can bring major cities within the 2-hour day-trip window, and we need new track capacity to run the very frequent service that makes trains attractive for a wide-variety of trips.

    Rick Harnish
    Executive Director
    Midwest High Speed Rail Association
    4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60625
    773-334-6758

  3. John Bredin says:

    “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?”

    The existing Amtrak service CHI-SPI-STL runs via Bloomington-Normal, and this is the route that’s been improved up to now (quad gates at crossings, etc.). The 220mph proposal is via Champaign-Urbana and Decatur and would not serve Bloomington-Normal, or any other point on the existing line between Chicago and Springfield.

    The 110mph improvements are still needed because:

    (1) the 220mph requires full grade separation and will take several years, while 110mph on the existing route can be done in the relative short term.

    (2) Bloomington-Normal is a destination unto itself (Illinois State University, mainly, but also State Farm Insurance, etc.) and merits fast and frequent rail service to Chicago and Springfield.

  4. Allan says:

    most importantly – the Midwest HSR Association and CA HSR are the only one who seem to get the fact that the states/regions who cough up the most money are going to get the most money from the feds. it is really quite simple. Too many other HSR authorities/organizations/states are tripping over themselves to get a quick shot of cash but i really doubt most have spent any time considering what to do over the long term. state/local matching money will be vital for the long-term under our current transportation system.

    I hope the other states (many of which have really good ideas and projects) can wake up and realize that they must be a solid investment partner if we ever want to make real progress in developing a high-quality, true HSR system.

  5. Logan Nash says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Rick. This is what I get for trying to quickly put up a post before work in the morning. I had a feeling that the lines probably weren’t mutually exclusive, but didn’t have the time to make sure.

  6. MadPark says:

    @4 – I’d add WA and NC to the list of states that have done more than minimal planning for higher speed services. Interestingly, MA, RI, CT, NJ, PA, DE, and MD have planned little and contributed less to the NEC yet they seem destined to get a huge chunk of the money. Ah, US politics!

  7. I agree with Rick that 220MPH is essential for the Chicago-St Louis corridor. It should be a priority for the Chicago-Detroit and Chicago-Minneapolis corridors as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

July 2009
S M T W T F S
« Jun   Aug »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Categories

%d bloggers like this: