MPC is pleased to announce our appointment to the special advisory group to study the feasibility of 220-mph passenger rail service between Chicago, Urbana-Champaign and beyond. This study will accompany ongoing construction of a 110-mph high speed rail network connecting Chicago to 40+ cities throughout the Midwest.
High speed rail advocates have maintained that trains must move at 220-mph in order to be dubbed “high speed” rail. The 110-mph rail network between Chicago and St. Louis currently being constructed would be an economic boon for Chicago, bringing in 80,000 new tourists and an estimated $630 million increase in tourism-related spending within 10 years. 110-mph high speed rail would provide a comparable alternative for travelers looking to avoid costly fill-ups at the gas pump. 220-mph high speed rail would get you there in half the time, but is it worth it? Which routes should be 220, 110 or more traditional 79 mph regional rail? These are the questions we’ll be asking on the advisory group.
“Illinois is leading the nation with our work to expand high-speed and passenger rail,” said Governor Quinn. “This study will provide greater insight into how we can make 220-mph rail service a reality. An expanded and improved rail network will boost our position in the global economy and create thousands of jobs.” Governor Quinn announced this initiative on June 2nd.
The special advisory group will partner with the University of Illinois and the Illinois Department of Transportation to determine the potential costs and benefits of establishing 220-mph service between O’Hare International Airport, downtown Chicago, McCormick Place, and Champaign-Urbana. The study will also consider extending the corridor to cities south of Champaign-Urbana, including St. Louis and Indianapolis. In addition to offering corridor location recommendations, the study will offer estimated ridership projections, economic impacts, construction costs and financing options.
The study, funded by a $1.25 million contribution from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, is expected to be completed in late 2012.
The members of the special advisory group include:
State Senator Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago)
State Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook)
Rick Harnish, Midwest High Speed Rail Association
Kevin Brubaker, Environmental Law & Policy Center
Joan Murphy, Cook County Commissioner (6th)
Bob Guy, United Transportation Union
J.D. Ross, Regional Transportation Authority Board of Directors
MarySue Barrett, Metropolitan Planning Council
Jack Guthman, Shefsky & Froelich Ltd