TagARRA

High-speed rail in Illinois, February 2011 edition

View a map of the places described in this article.

A friend of mine traveled by Amtrak’s Lincoln Service from Chicago to St. Louis in January 2011. He reported, “It’s extremely smooth north of Alton and south of Lincoln. You can barely even hear or feel that you’re on a train.” Track replacement as part of President Obama’s economic stimulus and high-speed rail plan is complete between Alton and Lincoln, Illinois.

Photo shows a Union Pacific work train next to new track in Carlinville, Illinois. Photo by Tim Carman, taken in November 2010.

The next track replacement phase will take place between Lincoln and Dwight, scheduled to be completed in Fall 2011. A December 2010 press release from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) explains the next steps for the first state to begin construction on high-speed rail grants provided by American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA):

  1. Installation of new, enhanced grade crossing warning protection
  2. New cars and locomotives
  3. Station upgrades

Like all press releases, this one also seems to ooze idealistic endeavors by adding that the “public can expect to enjoy its first taste of 110 mile-per-hour train service when a 20-mile segment between Dwight and Pontiac is completed in 2012.” But this project has a high likelihood of being completed as described.

Read more posts on high-speed rail in Steven can plan.

Who wants to give up high-speed rail

UPDATED: 11/16/10 and 11/19/10 to include new reports from Journal-Sentinel about Walker’s campaign contributions and to reorder the timeline (now in chronological order) and news about North Carolina.

The Governors-elect of Wisconsin (Scott Walker) and Ohio (John Kasich) made it clear during their campaigns that they would put an end to current or upcoming high-speed rail construction paid for mostly by competitive grants from the Department of Transportation.

Illinois was the first state to start high-speed rail construction using federal stimulus money. Photo taken just outside of Springfield, right before IDOT announced the first phase of track construction (from Alton to Springfield) is complete and phase two should have begun yesterday, Monday (from Springfield to Lincoln).

Because of their stance, and because Secretary Ray LaHood has made it clear that Wisconsin’s $810 million and Ohio’s $400 can only be used for high-speed rail, the news changes daily. Here’s the latest in the chronology that’s happened in the past two weeks:

LaHood is laying on the pressure that high-speed rail will happen, but perhaps not in Wisconsin, if Walker has his way.

*3C stands for Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus.

Two Amtrak trains waiting to depart Chicago Union Station (CUS) in May 2010. Photo by Eric Pancer.

High-speed rail stimulus awards coverage and summary

President Barack Obama was in Tampa, Florida, Thursday morning to announce the winners of the high-speed intercity passenger rail funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). The best coverage of this topic is on The Transport Politic.

View a spreadsheet summarizing all of the high-speed rail corridors, their award amount, and investment projects. I prepared this document based on the press releases from the White House Press Office. With these press releases, I also created the construction summary below.

The Acela, a train traveling from Washington, D.C., to Boston via Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York, is the country’s only high-speed rail, achieving a top speed of 150 miles per hour for only a few minutes. Photo by Jonathan Rissmeyer.

Construction Summary

Construction will occur in the following corridors*:

  • Northeast
    • New track and signals on the New York – Albany – Buffalo corridor.
    • New track on the New York – Montreal corridor.
    • Track will be restored/repaired on the Boston – Portland – Brunswick corridor.
    • A station will be built in Greenfield, MA, a station restored in Northampton, MA, and 11 new miles of track in CT, on the New Haven – Springfield – Burlington – St. Albans corridor.
  • Midwest
    • Two stations will be renovated in Troy and Battle Creek, MI, and a new station built in downtown Dearborn, MI, on the Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago corridor.
    • Also on the Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago corridor, a flyover, approach bridges, embankment and retaining walls will be built in Indiana.
    • Construction in Illinois on the Pontiac – Detroit – Chicago corridor includes the relocation, reconfiguration, and addition of high-speed crossovers and related signal system improvements, rail line additions at two locations, and the creation of a new passing tracks.
    • In Iowa, find four, new, remotely controlled powered crossovers on the BNSF Ottumwa subdivision.
    • Cities in Ohio will see various construction projects on the Cleveland – Columbus – Dayton – Cincinnati corridor, including new stations and upgraded track.
    • Illinois becomes the center of attention again on the Chicago – Milwaukee corridor, with various track and station improvements.
    • New stations will be built along the Milwaukee – Madison corridor, which will also see various track upgrades.
    • Illinois is the center of the Midwest rail network. The third largest award in this grant program goes to the Chicago – St. Louis corridor, for upgraded track, signals, and stations, installation of positive train control, and some CREATE projects to reduce congestion in and outside of Chicago.**
    • The St. Louis – Kansas City corridor will see upgraded bridges, crossovers, and improved grade crossings.
  • Pacific Northwest
    • On the Seattle – Portland corridor, expect construction of a bypass track, grade separations, the addition of Positive Train Control, and seismic retrofits to King Station in Seattle, WA.
    • The Portland Union Station will be upgraded.
  • South and Southeast
    • Between Fort Worth and Austin, new signals at grade crossings will be installed.
    • The Charlotte – Raleigh corridor will receive track upgrades.
    • Four new crossovers will be constructed in the Raleigh – Richmond corridor.
    • Between Richmond – Washington, D.C., trains will travel over 11 new miles of high-speed track
  • California
    • The California High Speed Rail Authority receives the largest chunk to construct track, signals, and stations.
    • On the Pacific Surfliner Corridor (San Luis Obispo – Los Angeles – San Diego), new track and crossovers will be constructed.

View on Google Docs or download an Excel file.

*This construction summary is about as complete as the press releases from the White House. I reviewed each press release and copied the information that indicated where construction or upgrades of new or existing project components would actually occur. I excluded planning, environmental impact statements, engineering, and design components of the above projects. I compiled the most important information from the White House press releases into a spreadsheet.

**UPDATED: For more CREATE and Englewood Flyover information, which was funded at $133 million, see page 2 of the Federal Railroad Administration’s summary handout (PDF) and this discussion on Railroad.net.

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