U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood awarded on 4 January more than $186 million to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for a high-speed rail project that will reduce travel times and put Americans back to work this spring.
“The Great Lakes-Midwest economic region is the world’s fifth largest economy by Gross Domestic Product, and nearly 100 million people live within 500 miles of each other,” said Secretary LaHood. “The Department of Transportation’s investment of more than $1 billion in the region’s high-speed rail service will reduce trip times and save travelers money, resulting in reduced congestion for the region and making the Midwest a better place to start a business and create jobs.”
The project will extend construction of the corridor north to Joliet, allowing for 110-mph service along nearly 70 percent of the route. Construction is already underway on the Chicago – St. Louis corridor, and work on the extension to Joliet will begin this spring. Once construction is complete, travelers can expect reductions of more than an hour in trip time, with improved on-time performance as well. Ridership has grown 137 percent over the last five years. The state has plans to add more frequent trips, and further reduce trip times on this popular route in the future.
The corridor will also benefit from next-generation American-made trains, funded as part of a previously announced $782 million grant that will pump new life into domestic manufacturing. States will purchase 33 quick-acceleration locomotives and 120 bi-level passenger cars to operate in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, California, Washington and Oregon. Illinois is among thirty-two states throughout the U.S. and the District of Columbia that are laying the foundation for high-speed rail corridors that will link Americans with faster and more energy-efficient travel options. To date, the U.S. Department of Transportation has invested $10.1 billion to put American communities on track towards new and expanded rail access and improved reliability, speed and frequency of existing service.