Illinois faces a lot of competition for high speed rail money

April 7, 2011

(Getty/File)
The State of Illinois faces some stiff competition to win some extra cash for high-speed rail projects.

The State of Illinois faces some stiff competition to win some extra cash for high-speed rail projects. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that 23 other states are also competing for the $2.4 billion. The money was supposed to go toward a high-speed rail project in Florida, but that state's governor rejected the money saying the project might be too costly.

Rick Harnish heads a high-speed rail advocacy group based in Chicago. He said Illinois stands a good chance to win the money from Florida.

"We really have to figure out very quickly how to move more people without their cars and this is the only way to both reduce fuel consumption and the cost of fuel and actually improve the way people travel in the state," Harnish said.

Illinois wants to apply $248 million of the Florida money to an existing project linking St. Louis and Chicago. It also filed a joint application with Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri for $860 million worth of new rail equipment, despite Wisconsin recently turning down money for high-speed rail.