By Railfan & Railroad Staff
CHICAGO — The State of Illinois is on the cusp of creating a high-speed railway commission that will help the state’s Department of Transportation coordinate with stakeholders to plan for the establishment of a route that would connect Chicago with St. Louis. The bill creating the commission was passed by the state legislature this week and is now awaiting a signature from Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“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,” said Rick Harnish, executive director of the High Speed Rail Alliance. “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.”
The commission will look at not only how it could lay the groundwork to build a high speed trunk line through the state but also how to connect it with existing Amtrak and Metra services. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford, and Rep. Marty Moylan, D-DesPlaines.
“The timing of the legislation is opportune, with the Biden Administration pushing hard for more rail funding and travel rebounding as the country emerges from the pandemic,” said Joseph P. Schwieterman, Director, Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development DePaul University. “Forming the commission gives the high-speed rail movement added momentum and greater opportunity to build the intergovernmental collaborations needed to move complex projects forward.”