Illinois is getting a cash boost from the federal government to extend its high-speed rail project to Joliet, a suburb about 40 miles southwest of Chicago, according to the Associated Press.
The $186 million in federal funds will pay for 110-mph service along nearly 70% of the route from Chicago to St. Louis. Work on the extension to Joliet is set to begin this spring.
“The Great Lakes-Midwest economic region is the world’s fifth largest economy by gross domestic product, and nearly 100 million people live within 500 miles of each other,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in praising the awarding of the funds.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) has invested more than $1 billion to get high-speed rail service in the region, and LaHood said he hopes it will reduce travel times and congestion while creating jobs and increasing business opportunities.
Thirty-two states and Washington, D.C., are building high-speed rail corridors that will give the public faster and more energy-efficient travel options, federal officials said.
The U.S. Transportation Department reported a $10.1 billion investment in creating a more accessible and speedier passenger rail network.
When high-speed trains are eventually traveling up to 110 mph, the trip between St. Louis and Chicago soon could be 90 minutes shorter, for a total trip length of less than four hours.
Trains traveling at 110 mph on the 284-mile Chicago-to-St. Louis corridor could debut between Dwight and Pontiac as early as this year, state officials have said in the past. Upgrades to the Dwight-Alton portion of the corridor are expected to be finished by 2014.