State To Get Word On High-Speed Rail Grants

CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) — Illinois should learn in the next month if it will receive additional high-speed rail grants from the Obama administration.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports, Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo said the funding decisions should be made in less than a month.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

He bristles at those who say the decisions by Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida in recent months to reject such grants shows that high-speed rail is dead.

Szabo said Illinois is battling 23 other states for the $2.4 billion that Florida rejected.

“The vast majority of the citizens of this country, in polls, show that they want high-speed rail, and the vast majority of states are choosing to move forward,” he said.

The state of Illinois seeks money on two fronts.

One application seeks the money needed to upgrade tracks on the Chicago-to-St. Louis route between Joliet and Dwight, Ill. for 110-mile-an-hour service.

The other application, made in conjunction with Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin, seeks money for new trains capable of higher-speed service throughout the Midwest.

Officials say 220 mph bullet train would feature Chicago as the main hub, with routes stretching to Minneapolis, Detroit, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Cleveland. But that plan would cost a grand total of $83 billion.

Among other discussions for possible future high-speed rail applications are a bullet train in the median of Interstate 90 that could link downtown with O’Hare International Airport and Rockford.

The state received $1.2 billion in the initial round of grants in January 2010. In December, it received $43 million of the money that Wisconsin and Ohio rejected.

  • Loran

    We need more high speed trains to Indiana and Michigan. Thousands of people live there and work in Chicago.
    Can anyone one suggest that a bullet train be build towards Fort Wayne IN so we can use it on our way back from work?
    We all hope these trains will use solar powered engines so the ticket won t be so high.

    • Native Chicagoan

      Loran or Lorah,
      Why, sure, to save you a little money, the feds and taxpayers will build you a solar powered bullet train! Why don’t you suggest you idea!? I prefer motorized wings. That would be so much fun and a real stress reducer.

      • southside

        If the government would subsidize me buying a Caddillac, I’d trade in my old Chevy. Let’s do that too

  • PoeticJustice

    An economic drain is the trains main bane! Now get on a plane, Jane.

    • MidwestMan

      It would be faster to take the train than to fly to most of these places. For example take Kansas City which is slated to be a 4 hour trip to Chicago via St. Louis. Sure it’s only a 45 minute flight but it also involves a 45 minute drive to the airport, getting there anywhere between an hour to two hours before departure to clear security, then the 45 minute flight, then the average of 30 minutes to get luggage and get out of the airport and then the 30 minute (by car) to an hour (by train) to downtown from O’hare and that’s if traffic is good. On the best possible day thats an overall trip of around 3 hours and 30 minutes. The train may take slightly longer but at least I can show up to the station 30 minutes ahead and go from downtown to downtown.

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