Chicago lands millions for high speed rail projects to St. Louis and Detroit

Travel times to Detroit could be shaved by 30 minutes

May 9, 2011

Cityroom and AP Wires

(Photo courtesy of Midwest High Speed Rail Association)

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Monday that it's giving Amtrak $404 million to expand high-speed rail service in the Midwest. 

The dollars will go toward making upgrades along the Chicago-St. Louis corridor and to constructing new segments of 110 mph track between Chicago and Detroit. 

Once completed, the two projects are expected to reduce travel times and improve safety. 

The Chicago-to-Detroit enhancements are expected to shave 30 minutes off of passenger travel times between the two destinations, and the government claims the construction phase of the project will create 1,000 jobs.

The money was part of $2 billion originally earmarked for high-speed rail links between Tampa and Orlando, Florida.

But Florida Governor Rick Scott canceled the project earlier this year, making the money available to be used in other parts of the nation. 

The Department of Transportation targeted rail projects in 15 states to receive the additional funds.  24 states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak had all applied for the dollars.

The largest share of the money - nearly $800 million - will be used to upgrade train speeds from 135 mph to 160 mph on critical segments of the heavily traveled Northeast corridor.

"The investments we’re making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities,” said Transporation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Advocates of high-speed rail are scheduled to go to the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on May 19th to lobby state officials to support enhanced passenger rail service in the state.