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WTHR: Indianapolis may pull out of Amtrak funding deal

7/21/14

INDIANAPOLIS -

Amtrak service from Indianapolis to Chicago is in jeopardy as Indianapolis moves to pull out of a funding deal to keep the Hoosier State Line going.

The mayor’s chief Ryan Vaughn told Eyewitness News the deal doesn’t make financial sense for the city. Vaughn said the city’s participation hinged on improvements for Union Station, which is in desperate need of repairs. But without Indy’s support, backers worry the Hoosier Line will be derailed.

Joe Seaman with the Greater Lafayette Commerce said, “It will be very difficult for the remaining communities to keep the trains running if Indianapolis does not participate.”

The Hoosier State runs from Indianapolis to Chicago four days a week. It leaves at 6 a.m. and returns at 11:50. It stops along the way in Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer.

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The Hill: Highway fund running on fumes

7/9/14

Lawmakers are under pressure to refill the Highway Trust Fund when they return to Washington after the Fourth of July weekend or risk losing thousands of construction jobs that could set back recent job growth. 

The Department of Transportation has warned that allowing the Highway Trust Fund to go broke would cost the U.S. about 700,000 jobs — more than twice the 288,000 that were created last month, according to a jobs report celebrated by the administration. 

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Reuters: House Republican proposes $10.9 billion transport funding extension

7/9/14

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp on Tuesday unveiled a $10.9 billion plan to extend U.S. transportation funding through May 31, 2015, a measure that would avert an August slowdown of funding for construction projects.

Camp’s plan would raise $6.4 billion through pension fund-related revenue changes, $3.5 billion through customs user fees and the transfer of $1 billion from a fund used to clean up leaking underground storage tanks.

With the Highway Trust Fund rapidly dwindling, the U.S. Department of Transportation is planning to sharply reduce the amount of federal money it distributes to states to fund road, bridge and rail construction projects on Aug. 1.

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California budget agreement includes funds for high-speed rail

6/20/14

The California General Assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown reached a budget deal that will includes a $250 million appropriation for high-speed rail in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Funding for the $68-billion high-speed rail line, which will run from Los Angeles to San Francisco, will reportedly be drawn from the state’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. In coming years, the high-speed rail train will reportedly receive 25 percent of the revenue from that program.

The state’s funding agreement comes less than a week after the U.S. House of Representatives approved the 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill, which included an amendment from Rep. Jeff Denham’s (R-California) to prohibit any appropriated funds from being used for high-speed rail in the state of California.

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High-speed rail advocates see moral victory but no funding from Legislature

6/20/14

The Minnesota Legislature didn’t approve funding to support high-speed rail between the Twin Cities and Chicago, but supporters say they got a small moral victory at the Capitol.

Reports the the Minnesota High-Speed Rail Commission:

Governor Mark Dayton’s “unsession” bill had a positive impact for Minnesota High-Speed Rail. The unsession bill removed old, outdated laws from the state’s statutes, and updated others. One law was updated to exempt passenger rail from redundant design review processes by the state Legislature.

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5 Gorgeous New High-Speed Rail Stations Coming to the U.S.

6/20/14

Chances are, if you’re fond of traveling you’ve probably wondered why high-speed trains have existed in Europe and Asia for years, yet they’re non-existent here in the United States.

But the reality of a high-speed rail network is edging closer and closer. As Gizmodo reports, cities have already begun planning — and in some cases, already building — new stations in five cities across America. These stations will combine the old elegance of train travel with lightning fast speed — with the hope that in the future, these trains will be well used by passengers.

This year, Union Station in Los Angeles celebrates its 75th anniversary and with it comes a redesign. The plan includes stations for buses and trains plus a new subway system as well as bus, bike and pedestrian connections. Designed by Grimshaw Architects and Gruen Associates, the design also includes a high-speed rail terminal, as well as hotel and office towers, park land and better access to the neighborhoods surrounding the station and the nearby L.A. River.

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5 Rail Stations From America’s New Golden Age of Train Travel

6/6/14

With a high-speed rail network slowly making its way towards reality, cities are commissioning grand stations for the 21st century to accommodate this new mode of transit. Here are five stations on the horizon that are bringing the drama and glamour back to train travel, while positioning it for a high-tech, high-speed future.

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High-speed St. Paul-to-Rochester train? Could happen

6/6/14

High-speed rail someday might roll from Rochester into St. Paul or the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — but not into Minneapolis.

“Target Field Station in Minneapolis is no longer a primary destination for this corridor,” Praveena Pidaparthi, planning director for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, told the Ramsey County Board on Tuesday.

Instead, the three leading alternatives include connecting the Zip Rail to the airport or Union Depot in Lowertown St. Paul or both, she said.

Routing passengers to the Union Depot would allow them to transfer to Amtrak’s Chicago-bound Empire Builder service or future high-speed rail to Chicago, creating a stronger link between the Windy City and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

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Final downstate construction begins for 110-mph trains

6/6/14

Amtrak passenger trains should be running at speeds up to 110 mph between Carlinville and Joliet in 2015, based on the latest update of high-speed rail construction from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

This year’s construction season, the fifth since the $1.5 billion federal-state high-speed rail program began, includes approximately $100 million worth of rail, bridge, siding, crossing and station improvements between St. Louis and Chicago.

“We are on schedule to bring most of the Joliet-Carlinville segment to 110 by the end of 2015,” IDOT spokeswoman Paris Ervin said.

The upgrades, according to IDOT, will allow for 110-mph service between Carlinville and Joliet that was first begun in 2012 on the section between Pontiac and Dwight. The goal is 110-mph service on the entire St. Louis-Chicago corridor in 2017.

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On Topic: Former Transportation secretary on high-speed rail, Congress and Obama

6/6/14

The Bee’s editorial board met with Ray LaHood,who spent 14 years in Congress before joining President Barack Obama’s administration in 2009 as transportation secretary. A senior policy adviser at the international law firm DLA Piper, he stopped by to talk about high-speed rail and Congress.

What brings you to town?

I am meeting with Gov. Jerry Brown and High Speed Rail chief executive Jeff Morales. I want to thank the governor for his commitment and give him some advice about where some funding might be in the Department of Transportation. I want to talk to him about some private investors who have come to me. …

When I was in Washington, I helped provide funding to the tune of $4 billion. This is the one place in America that would have true high-speed rail. It is the one place in America where there is a real commitment. …

This is one of the best projects in the country right now. It is because of Gov. Brown. I know these court decisions have been a little bit of a setback. But hopefully they’ll get a good ruling in the end.

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