The Illinois legislature passed a bill that would create a High-Speed Railway Commission in the state.
It would be tasked with developing a “statewide plan for a high-speed rail line and feeder network connecting St. Louis, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois, that includes current existing Amtrak and Metra services; connects the cities of Rockford, Moline, Peoria, and Decatur; and uses inter-city bus service to coordinate with the rail line.”
“The commission will provide a forum that the Illinois Department of Transportation can use to go from its current wish-list of projects to a true, statewide plan,” Rick Harnish, executive director of the High Speed Rail Alliance (HSRA), said in a statement. “HSRA has been an advocate for creating this commission for more than three years. This is a major step forward for our alliance and for the nation.”
HSRA envisions a plan that would modernize intercity and commuter trains, transit systems, and buses—and integrate them into a connected network, with a 220-mph high-speed trunk line to tie the statewide network together.
The alliance, which initiated and helped draft the bill, says that, when done right, with other railroads, roads, and walkways going over or under the tracks, high-speed rail is twice as fast as driving and more convenient than short flights.
The law requires the commission’s plan to include a ridership study, findings, and recommendations concerning a governance structure, frequency of service, and implementation. An annual report would go to the General Assembly and the governor no later than Dec. 31 of each year.
The commission will be composed of appointees by the governor, the four top leaders in the General Assembly, the state transportation secretary, chairs of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, Interstate Commerce Commission and Metra board of directors, the Chicago mayor, a rail workers union, a rail-industry trade group, the Metropolitan Mayors and Managers Association, Illinois Railroad Association, the University of Illinois System, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the Illinois Municipal League, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, and regional planning agencies from the Rockford, Bloomington, and Metro East (St. Louis) areas. The commission is authorized to work from the bill’s signing through 2026.
SOURCE: High Speed Rail Alliance