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State To Get Word On High-Speed Rail Grants

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French High Speed Rail V150 Train

A French high-speed rail V150 train. (Credit: Réseau Ferré de France (RFF))

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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.

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