Illinois gets 454 million dollars more in high-speed rail funding

15:03, May 10, 2011      

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by Ted Regencia

Florida's loss is Illinois' gain.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Monday that on top of the 186 million U.S. dollars announced last week, Illinois will be getting an additional 268 million dollars in high speed rail funding.

LaHood said the money will be used for the purchase of 48 new passenger rail cars and 7 locomotives that will be equipped to travel at high speeds.

The funding comes from the two billion dollars that was originally appropriated for a rail project between Orlando and Tampa in Florida. That project was rejected by the newly-elected Republican Governor Rick Scott.

"High speed rail funding is more than just creating short-term construction jobs. Every dollar we spend on rail produces 3 dollars in economic output," U.S. Senator from Illinois Richard Durbin said in a statement.

"With today's announcement, we are continuing to invest in infrastructure that will keep the businesses we have and attract new businesses and industries to Illinois in the future. I hope these new passenger rail cars will be built right here in our state," added Durbin, who is second in command in the U.S. Senate.

In a statement issued from Washington D.C., LaHood said "the investments we're making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities." LaHood, who himself is from Illinois, served as congressman in the central district of Peoria.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was one of several state officials who have lobbied hard to get the funding rejected by Florida.

In an effort to highlight the importance of securing more funding, Quinn announced last March 685 million dollars in initial funding for the Chicago to St. Louis rail corridor.

"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 Monday.

"As the hub of the Midwest's high-speed rail system, we will continue to utilize federal and state dollars to create jobs, ensuring that fast, reliable and clean rail transportation is a reality and continuing our economic recovery," Quinn added.

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk said that with the additional funding, "Illinois' strong position as a rail hub will continue."

Two additional projects that will benefit travelers to and from Chicago also received a total of 210 million dollars on Monday, including 196.5 million dollars to improve the Michigan-Kalamazoo-Dearborn project along the corridor between Chicago and Detroit, Michigan.

Another 13.5 million dollars is earmarked for a new bridge over the Mississippi River on the Chicago to St. Louis route, replacing the Merchant's Bridge, which was built in the 1890s.

Meanwhile the Northeastern railway system between major cities of Washington D.C., New York and Boston will receive 795 million dollars.

Source: Xinhua
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