Illinois Gets Slice of High-Speed Rail Pie

By:  Lisa Blade
NBC Chicago

Looks like the Chicago to St. Louis corridor is a big step closer to getting high-speed status.

Two billion dollars in federal funding for high-speed rail projects was awarded Monday, and thanks to Florida rejecting $400 million of it, Illinois snagged $268 million to purchase seven high-speed locomotives and 48 new passenger cars.

That's on top of the $186 million the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the Land of Lincoln last week to make track improvements.

“Illinois is committed to building an integrated, regional high-speed rail network and this investment in rail cars will continue to advance this goal,” Quinn said in a statement.

The rail also will benefit from $210 million given to high-speed improvements for the Chicago Hub Network, with stops in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Kansas City, Detroit and Cleveland. The money will update track and signal systems along the Chicago to Detroit route and make that route about 30 minutes faster. It also will pay for bridge replacements on the Chicago to St. Louis route.

“High speed rail funding is more than just creating short-term construction jobs," Sen. Dick Durbin said in a statement. "Every dollar we spend on rail produces $3 in economic output.”

Last month, Durbin and Sen. Mark Kirk asked for support in Illinois’ application for the federal funding that Florida's governor passed over.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Monday in a statement U.S high-speed rails will "help create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities.”

They "will help ensure America is equipped to win the future with the fastest, safest and most efficient transportation network in the world," he said.