Durbin: Midwest is Well Positioned to Utilize High Speed Rail Funding in President's Plan

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today commended President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood for identifying the Chicago Hub Network as a potential recipient of federal funding under their new vision for high speed rail in America. Their strategic plan identifies $8 billion available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for high speed rail and an additional $1 billion per year for five years outlined in the federal budget.


“The plan announced by the President, Vice President and Transportation Secretary is a bold vision for the future of transportation. A twenty-first century high-speed rail system rooted in major metropolitan areas like Chicago is now one step closer to reality.


“Many of my colleagues in the House and Senate agree that the Midwest offers the greatest opportunity to reduce congestion and dependence on foreign oil and spur economic development in a region hard hit by job loss.


“With $8 billion available through the Recovery Act, it is important that Illinois and the six other Midwest states that are part of the Chicago Network Hub continue moving forward with project plans and investments. I will work closely with federal, state and local leaders to ensure that the Midwest remains well positioned to utilize this high speed rail funding.”


The Chicago Hub Network – which includes the Chicago to St. Louis line – is one of ten major rail corridors identified nationwide as part of the Administration’s vision for transforming the nation’s transportation system. Each corridor is eligible to receive federal funding for projects to rebuild existing rail infrastructure and launch new high-speed rail service.


Durbin has actively brought together federal, state and local leaders around an effort to bring high speed rail to Illinois and the Midwest. On April 3, Durbin led a group of Senators from Midwestern states in urging President Barack Obama to consider investing funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in rail corridors in the Midwest.


Last month, Durbin met with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, the Chairman of the Amtrak Board of Directors, Tom Carper, and state leaders to discuss Illinois’ commitment to fighting for and winning the federal dollars needed to make high-speed rail in Illinois a reality, pointing to the Chicago to St. Louis line as the state’s premier route and top priority. Durbin also organized a meeting with the Illinois Delegation and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Illinois’ preparation to receive Recovery Act funding for the state’s transportation system including, high-speed rail. During both meetings, Illinois leaders also discussed the efforts to extend new service from Chicago to Rockford and the Quad Cities.