St. Louis Public Radio News
6:53 am
Tue May 26, 2009

Quinn pushes for high-speed rail

Springfield, Ill. – Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's administration is pushing the General Assembly to include high speed rail in the final piece of a public works program up for consideration this week.

Lawmakers approved more than $28 billion in spending for construction of roads, bridges, mass transit and other infrastructure last week.

Another $1.5 billion in spending is expected to be voted on this week.

The governor's office wants $400 million of that money to go to building high-speed rail in the state.

Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig said lawmakers need to approve that funding before the end of the month to take advantage of federal funding.

"The federal stimulus puts $8 billion on the table," Hannig said. "That's 17 times more than we've ever seen the federal government commit. It's important that we here in Illinois understand that we have an opportunity of a lifetime to promote high speed rail."

The state and the Union Pacific Railroad have already signed an agreement to develop a plan to build a high-speed rail system between Chicago and St. Louis.

It's estimated nearly $3 billion will be needed to complete the project.