Midwest Gets $2.6 billion for High-Speed, Intercity Rail Projects

Stateline Midwest, a publication of the Midwestern Office of the Council of State Governments: Vol 19, No. 3: March 2010.

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An influx of $2.6 billion in federal funds will accelerate state efforts to provide faster, more-frequent passenger rail service across the Midwest.

Seven Midwestern states are receiving assistance from the $8 billion High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program (part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) to upgrade four federally designated “high-speed rail corridors.” Corridors receive this designation based on “their present utility and their potential for future development,” according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Here are some examples of how the federal dollars will be used.

  • Illinois will spend $1.1 billion to make the necessary track, signaling and station improvements to implement 110-mph service between Chicago and St. Louis.
  • Minnesota will use its $1 million grant to fund the environmental study that must be done before high-speed rail service can be extended from Madison, Wis., to the Twin Cities.
  • The $400 million for Ohio will allow the state to start up new passenger-rail service along the 250-mile “3-C” corridor, which connects the cities of Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.
  • Wisconsin’s $822 million grant will fund the infrastructure upgrades needed to develop train service between Chicago and Madison.
  • For the Detroit-Chicago corridor, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan will receive a total of $244 million to make station renovations and improve track and signaling (thus allowing for faster and more-frequent service).

Investments in these corridors also get the Midwest closer to realizing its long-envisioned plan for intercity passenger-rail service. The Midwest Regional Rail Initiative and Ohio Hub call for improvements on routes connecting Midwestern cities as far as 600 miles apart, allowing speeds to increase to up to 110 mph and daily service to at least quadruple.