Thursday, June 02, 2011

University of Illinois, state DOT to study 220 mph HSR

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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday announced a partnership between the University of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Transportation, and a special advisory group to study the feasibility of 220 mph passenger rail service.

The study will explore the potential costs and benefits of establishing 220 mph service between O’Hare International Airport, downtown Chicago, McCormick Place, and Champaign-Urbana. It will also look at extending the corridor in the region to cities south of Champaign-Urbana, including beyond state boundaries to St. Louis and Indianapolis.

The study will complement the ongoing construction of the regional 110 mph higher-speed rail (HrSR), the governor said.

“This study will provide greater insight into how we can make 220-mph rail service a reality,” Quinn said. “An expanded and improved rail network will boost our position in the global economy and create thousands of jobs.”

Leading the study will be University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Christopher P.L. Barkan, director of the school’s railroad engineering program and one of the nation’s top rail scholars. Contributing will be University of Illinois at Chicago Urban Transportation Center director Stephen Schlickman, former executive director of the Regional Transportation Authority. Their findings, made possible through a $1.25 million contribution from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, is expected to be complete and presented to Governor Quinn in late 2012.

In addition to offering corridor location recommendations, the study will offer estimated ridership projections, economic impacts, construction costs and financing options.

Assisting in the effort will be an advisory group composed of transportation experts, rail advocates, labor leaders, and regional planners who will provide input during the course of the study.

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