Legislators and advocates introduce Illinois Fast Track Initiative
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[August 07, 2007]
SPRINGFIELD -- On Tuesday in
Springfield, a coalition of state and local elected officials and
passenger rail advocates from throughout Illinois unveiled the
second stage of the Illinois Fast Track Initiative and called on the
General Assembly to include passenger rail investments as a
significant part of any capital package.
[click on map for larger image]
Relatively small amounts of dollars for downstate Amtrak projects
create large economic returns for Illinois -- much better than
corresponding highway projects. For example, it's much less than $20
million to get 110 mph service between Joliet and Springfield,
making Amtrak service faster than driving between Chicago and the
Extending Amtrak service to the Quad Cities, and connecting
Chicago, Rockford, Freeport and Galena are also relatively cheap
investments -- each less than $40 million in capital costs --
compared with widening roads or building interstate exchanges.
As the legislative debate seemed to shift over the last few days
to include a capital plan, passenger rail advocates are calling to
ensure Amtrak Illinois service is included, as the returns on the
investment are so high.
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The Illinois General Assembly implemented the first stage of the
Fast Track Initiative last year by doubling service on downstate
routes effective Oct. 30, 2006. This expansion has led to an
explosion in ridership that has made Illinois the model for
successful passenger rail expansion.
The Midwest High Speed Rail Association is a membership-supported
advocacy organization working for fast, frequent and dependable
trains in the region. The association's online site is at
www.midwesthsr.org and its
director is Rick Harnish, who can be reached at 312-339-0116.
[Text from file received from
the Midwest High Speed Rail