Durbin, Quinn, Daley Call on Midwest Governors to Increase Efforts to Secure High Speed Rail Funding
Propose a Regional Rail Summit this summer to showcase Chicago hub project
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn joined Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley in calling on seven Midwestern Governors to increase their efforts and regional coordination on high speed rail through a regional Rail Summit held in Chicago – the Midwest rail system’s hub – this summer. Today’s announcement followed a meeting between Durbin and Quinn where they also discussed moving forward with Illinois’s bid for the $8 billion available in funding for high speed rail through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“I continue to hear from people across Illinois who are looking for an affordable, reliable alternative to sitting in traffic and waiting out airport delays,” said Durbin. “With $8 billion set aside for high speed rail, we have an extraordinary opportunity to make rail travel competitive. It is time for Illinois to take the lead in increasing the region’s efforts to bring high speed rail to the Midwest.”
“I am committed to taking full advantage of federal recovery funds to make high speed rail a reality in Illinois,” said Quinn. “Today, we asked our neighboring states to share in this commitment and to join with us. Working together, we will develop the nation’s premier high speed rail project right here in the Midwest.”
“President Obama's commitment to high speed rail presents an historic moment to secure our place as the nation's transportation hub, to provide an enduring economic stimulus, and to recognize the national benefits of fast train service throughout Chicago and the Midwest,” said Daley.
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 under the Recovery Act.
Durbin, Quinn and Daley wrote: “There will be intense competition from other states for these funds. However, by acting in a regional way, we can rise above the competition. Secretary LaHood echoed this sentiment when he challenged the Midwest to come together and create a more formal working relationship between our states. Doing so will better position the Chicago hub network for funding and establish a one-of-a-kind regional partnership that sets us apart from the rest of the country.”
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.
In April, Durbin and Quinn met with 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.
Letters were sent to the following Midwest Governors: Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana; Governor Chet Culver of Iowa; Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota; Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan; Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio; Governor Jeremiah Nixon of Missouri and Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin.
[Text of the letter below]
Dear Midwest Governor:
We are writing to request your support for and participation in a Midwest High Speed Rail summit this summer. In our letters to President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary LaHood we have already clearly communicated our desire for making the Chicago hub rail network the national example for achieving high speed rail in the United States. To achieve this goal, we will need to more closely coordinate our States’ efforts to ensure we are speaking with one voice when communicating our vision of high speed rail to the Federal Government.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act requires the Department of Transportation to release formal guidance to states seeking high speed rail funding by June 17th. This date represents the starting gun for states and regions to begin competing for federal HSR funding.
There will be intense competition from other states for these funds. However, by acting collectively, we can rise above the competition. Secretary LaHood challenged the Midwest to come together and create a more formal working relationship between our states. Doing so will better position the Chicago-hub network for funding and establish a one-of-a-kind regional partnership that sets us apart from the rest of the country.
We believe a Midwest High Speed Rail summit in Chicago this summer would provide us a with the opportunity to both establish a formal working relationship among our states and showcase the Chicago- hub project to the Federal Government as the premier national high speed rail project.
The Administration will soon begin choosing which states will partake in the single largest investment in high speed rail in our nation’s history. The impact to the economy, environment and competitiveness of our region will be enormous if we can step up to the Administration’s challenge and prove to the Federal Government we are ready to take the lead in bringing high speed rail to the United States.
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