The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have approved the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the full build-out of the Chicago-St. Louis high-speed rail corridor, according to a press release issued yesterday by Gov. Pat Quinn's office.
The EIS narrowed down the preferred route alternatives, and includes IDOT's preferred Chicago-Joliet route — the Rock Island corridor — rather than the existing Heritage route. The $1 billion cost to upgrade the Rock Island route is $500 million less than the Heritage corridor mainly because fewer grade separations would be needed.
The EIS also includes a Tier 2 project-level evaluation for the Springfield Rail Improvement Project, which would consolidate a train route along 10th Street through Springfield.
The EIS represents significant progress on the next stage of the high-speed rail project after upgrades are completed along the Dwight-Alton portion of the route, expected as early as 2015, and the Dwight-Joliet Section, anticipated in 2017.
The FRA could issue a record of decision on the EIS by year's end.
IDOT has received more than $1.4 billion in federal funds to develop high-speed rail service between Chicago and St. Louis, and contributed another $42 million in state capital program funds for the project. In October, IDOT tested trains traveling at 110 mph between Dwight and Pontiac.
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