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High-Speed Rail System Would Move Business in the Right Direction
A completed Midwest high-speed rail network will create 57,000 permanent jobs and support 15,200 jobs during the ten years that it would take to construct the project. Photo courtesy MoPIRG Foundation

High-Speed Rail System Would Move Business in the Right Direction
ST. LOUIS, MO (SLFP.com), September 21, 2010 - A new report, "Connecting the Midwest," by MoPIRG Foundation puts clear numbers and a clear vision on how high-speed rail will boost the Midwest economy, reduce highway and airport congestion, reduce dependence on oil, and protect the environment.

The report was released by MoPIRG on Monday at a press conference at the Gateway Transportation Center with Frank Steeves from Emerson Electric Co., Susan Stauder from the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association, and representatives for Congressman William Lacy Clay and Congressman Russ Carnahan.

Matt Erickson, MoPIRG program associate, said, "High-speed rail is a part of the solution - boosting our economy and creating jobs, modernizing our transportation system and helping to solve our nation's oil dependency, worsening congestion and pollution. High-speed rail gets us moving, in the right direction."

The report looks at benefits specific to eight Midwestern states, including Missouri. Key findings of the report include:

  • A completed Midwest high-speed rail network will create 57,000 permanent jobs and support 15,200 jobs during the ten years that it would take to construct the project.
  • Traffic congestions costs major Midwest metropolitan areas more than $10 billion annually in lost economic output. Midwest high-speed rail will reduce air travel by 1.3 million trips and car travel by 5.1 million trips per year by 2020, curbing congestion.
  • Upgrading service between St. Louis and Chicago would shorten travel to less than 4 hours. This improved trip time would attract 1.2 million passengers in the first year of service.
  • An Amtrak passenger uses 30% less energy per passenger mile than a passenger car, reducing dependence on oil.
  • High-speed rail will give consumer more transportation options. Region-wide in the Midwest, 58% of Midwesterners, or 35 million people, would live within 15 miles of a high-speed rail station. More than one out of every four jobs in the region would be within five miles of a station.
  • 51% of Missourians would live within 15 miles of a station, and 58% of the state's workforce would have a station within 15 miles of their workplace.
  • The system would prevent 188,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year by replacing less efficient car and plane travel. The amount is equal to the annual emissions of 34,000 cars.
"High-speed rail is a smart investment for today. Businesses will invest where they know the routes are coming, which means public leaders need to stand up and make their commitment clear," said Susan Stauder, Vice president for infrastructure and public policy for the St. Louis Regional Chamber and growth Association.

In January, the Obama administration announced that 31 states will receive a portion of $8 billion in funding to build and plan for high-speed rail under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Midwest received funds totaling $2.7 billion for rail projects in six states. $1.1 billion has been allocated to upgrade the St. Louis to Chicago line, and $31 million has been allocated for improvements for the route from St. Louis to Kansas City along the I-70 corridor.

In a released statement, Congressman William Lacy Clay said, "I strongly support the upgrading of existing rail lines across Missouri and the establishment of a high-speed rail corridor between St. Louis and Chicago. These initiatives will create thousands of new jobs, promote energy efficiency and bring new economic development to many communities."

The report urges Congress to invest adequate resources in intercity rail and set performance standards to fully realize rail's potential. It calls on the President and Congress to articulate a national vision for high-speed rail similar to the vision outlined by President Eisenhower for the Federal Highway system.

MoPIRG is a statewide non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful interests.

Illinois Becomes First State to Begin High-Speed Rail Construction
ALTON, IL, (SWI-News.com), September 17, 2010 - Governor Pat Quinn was joined by officials on Friday in Alton, IL, to announce the start of a $98 million project to upgrade an initial 90 miles of Union Pacific railroad track between Alton and Lincoln in preparation for high-speed rail service.

This initial phase will create approximately 900 direct and indirect jobs, and represents the first high-speed rail upgrades in the nation. In total, developing the Chicago-St. Louis High Speed Rail corridor is anticipated to create and retain approximately 24,000 direct and indirect Illinois jobs. The project is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

"I am proud to announce that Illinois is the first state in the nation to begin high-speed rail construction," said Governor Quinn. "When the corridor is completed, travelers will be able to go from Chicago to St. Louis in under four hours, making Illinois the high-speed rail hub of the Midwest. This project is an essential to strengthening Illinois' economic recovery, creating jobs and developing long-term investment in Illinois."

Illinois' high-speed rail signature route: Chicago to St. Louis, received $1.1 billion for corridor improvements. The improvements will allow passenger rail service to operate at speeds up to 110 mph, and will significantly reduce travel times between the two cities. The corridor is part of a Midwest network that connects major cities across the region to Chicago. Under Governor Quinn's leadership, the Midwest system received $2.6 billion in the initial round of ARRA funding, more than any other region in the nation.

"Today, we mark the beginning of construction on the Alton to Springfield portion of the St. Louis to Chicago high-speed rail corridor," Senator Durbin said. "This project will create jobs, take cars off our roads and present new economic development opportunities throughout the region. High-speed rail will help us be competitive in the global economy for years to come. I want to thank Governor Quinn for his leadership in putting Illinois at the forefront of this effort and for helping to bring governors together to make a Midwest high speed rail network a reality."

Construction on the segment that runs from Alton to Springfield began in early September. Work will then take place from Springfield to Lincoln to complete the nearly 90-mile segment. A study is being conducted to determine the best route for high-speed rail traffic through Springfield. Weather permitting, this initial segment of track upgrades is targeted to be completed by the end of December.

"We commend the exceptional coordination, discipline and strategic efforts brought forth by all involved parties to get work started on this important rail investment," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig. "This project will boost the regional economy and will bring us one significant step closer to a Chicago-St. Louis high-speed rail corridor."

In January, the Obama administration awarded Illinois more than $1.2 billion in ARRA funds for high-speed passenger rail projects, making it one of only three states to receive an award of more than $1 billion.

"I am very pleased to see firsthand the immediate, tangible economic impacts and future transportation benefits of this Recovery Act funding," said Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. "Improvements along the Chicago to St. Louis rail corridor will not only make 110mph passenger service possible, but it will also emblemize the type of strategic investments the Obama Administration is making in America's transportation future."

In addition, $1.25 million in federal funding will be used to undertake an environmental impact study for a second track along the same route to increase daily frequencies. The state also was awarded $133 million to build the Englewood Flyover on Chicago's South Side, a Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) project to clear rail bottlenecks and eliminate significant delays for commuter, inter-city and freight trains, including 110-mph trains on the Chicago-St. Louis route.

The upgrade to 110-mph service will improve the state's transportation system while creating jobs and boosting economic development. The state also is seeking additional federal funding for a feasibility study to determine the potential for 220-mph service in Illinois. The state has applied for $8 million in federal funding for this study.

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Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park to Fulfill Eero Saarinen's Dream
Scott Air Force Base to Remain Open
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