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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

IDOT, FRA sign off on Tier 1 environmental statement for Chicago-St. Louis high-speed line


The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have approved the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the full build-out of the Chicago-St. Louis high-speed rail corridor, according to a press release issued today by Gov. Pat Quinn's office.

The EIS narrowed down the preferred route alternatives, and includes IDOT's preferred Chicago-Joliet route — the Rock Island Corridor — rather than the existing Heritage route. The $1 billion it would cost to upgrade the Rock Island route is $500 million less than the Heritage corridor, mainly because fewer grade separations would be needed, according to the press release.

The EIS also includes a Tier 2 project-level evaluation for the Springfield Rail Improvement Project, which would consolidate a train route along 10th Street through Springfield.

The EIS represents significant progress on the next stage of the high-speed rail project after upgrades are completed along the Dwight-Alton portion of the route, expected as early as 2015, and the Dwight-Joliet Section, anticipated in 2017.

The FRA could issue a Record of Decision on the EIS by year's end.

IDOT has received more than $1.4 billion in federal funds to develop high-speed rail service between Chicago and St. Louis and contributed another $42 million in state capital program funds for the project. In October, IDOT tested trains traveling at 110 mph between Dwight and Pontiac.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/15/2012