The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will host a series of public meetings today through Thursday to provide details on high-speed rail projects involved in Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyses.
The Tier 2 EIS projects represent the next stage in an environmental analysis process related to the Chicago-to-St. Louis High-Speed Rail Corridor program, IDOT officials said in a press release.
The Tier 2 program will study in greater detail the Chicago-to-Joliet route alternative that follows the existing 40-mile-long Metra Rock Island District Corridor between the cities. Current Amtrak passenger-rail service between Chicago and Joliet is provided along the Metra Heritage Corridor. Meetings on this segment are scheduled for Chicago, Joliet and Orland Park.
Improving passenger service on the slowest portion of Illinois’ emerging 110-mph rail corridor, between Chicago and Joliet, will cost an estimated $1.5 billion, officials said Monday.
It’s roughly the same amount the state is spending so far to develop the rest of the high-speed corridor south of Joliet to St. Louis, according to data from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
No funding has been secured yet to modernize the Chicago-to-Joliet segment, where trains often creep along due to heavy congestion and rail slow zones.
And officials said it’s too soon to know whether 110 mph trains are feasible on any portion in the Chicago area.
DENVER (CBS4)- A high-speed rail line is being proposed from Denver to the mountains in an effort to ease traffic congestion that keeps thousands of drivers stuck for hours along Interstate 70.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is proposing a high-speed rail line that would connect Denver International Airport to the Eagle County Airport. CDOT said it is possible once they find a few billion dollars.
“Building more lanes isn’t going to get us out of this situation and we need to begin looking at the transportation of the future to serve Colorado,” said Clear Creek County Commissioner Tim Mauck.
A report released by CDOT on Wednesday identified two ways for a high-speed mass transit: regular rail lines and the more modern idea of magnetic levitation.
Transportation officials will be holding public hearings next month to discuss the possibility of high-speed passenger train service for parts of New York state, and we urge our elected officials at all levels to make sure central New York is part of the equation.
One of many plans state and federal officials have looked at over the years would be upgrades in rail service between Buffalo and the Capital District. That would take people straight through Cayuga County, of course, and we can’t help but dream of the potential economic impact to industry and tourism that could be generated by a passenger stop in Weedsport.
The benefits of high-speed railroad service, including reduced highway traffic and its resulting pollution, have been touted for years, and both Sen. Charles Schumer and U.S Rep. Dan Maffei have long pushed for investments in upgrades. Federal funding is the biggest key to making it happen, and it wouldn’t happen overnight. It would be a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar project that would produce substantial long-term benefits.
Jerry Brown is not, shall we say, America’s most conventional governor. In his State of the State address last month, he showed off a set of playing cards adorned with action shots of his Welsh corgi, Sutter. Each card included a dog-related bon mot highlighting the importance of keeping state spending within limits: “A prudent corgi knows to nibble at his kibble.” “Save some biscuits for a rainy day.” “Bark if you don’t like deficits.”
The message was clear. While California had recovered from an epic fiscal hole and now showed a healthy surplus—not bad for a man once derided as “Governor Moonbeam”—Brown insisted that now was not the time to return to what he considered profligate overspending. Quoting the book of Genesis, Brown recounted advice delivered by Joseph to the Pharoah: “Put away your surplus during the years of great plenty so you will be ready for the lean years which are sure to follow.”
But there is one project Brown has decided not to save for the future, his Great Pyramid of Giza: building the nation’s first high-speed rail line, one of the largest infrastructure projects in U.S. history, with an estimated price tag of $68 billion—if not higher. Shovels are poised to hit the ground this year on the first section of track, the latest advance in Brown’s 32-year quest to erect something he believes befits the image of California as a “land of dreams.”
While funding issues and tank-car design standards will be prominent issues in Washington, D.C., during 2014, several other legislative concerns will be on industry observers’ radar.
They include reauthorization of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA), the law that authorizes Amtrak and which expired last year; extension of the short-line tax credit; the Section 130 Railway-Highway Crossings Program; and freight-train crew size.
PRIIA and Amtrak
Although it’s still not clear whether PRIIA legislation will be part of part of a larger surface transportation package, the future of the nation’s intercity passenger-rail system will be under the congressional microscope this year. In an interview posted on Politco.com in mid-January, House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Chairman Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) said he preferred the Amtrak bill to stand as its own bill rather than be merged with the larger surface transportation measure, noting that the Highway Trust Fund will face some major obstacles to funding.
When lawmakers do consider PRIIA and Amtrak, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) has called on them to think long term regarding Amtrak infrastructure funding.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration won at least a partial victory Friday in the legal wrangling over California’s high-speed rail project when a state appellate court said it would hear an expedited review of two lower court rulings.
The 3rd District Court of Appeal announced late in the day that it granted the state’s request for quick review of the rulings by Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny. He had concluded that the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s plans no longer comply with the promises made to voters when they approved nearly $10 billion in bonds for the project in 2008.
In separate decisions, Kenny ordered the state to write a new funding plan explaining how it would pay for the $68 billion bullet train and blocked the sale of $8.6 billion in voter-approved bonds. Friday’s order means the state will not have to rewrite the funding plan unless the appeals court also rejects its arguments.
Tuesday will be the first chance for the public to weigh in on the draft of an updated business plan for the state’s proposed high-speed train system when the California High-Speed Rail Authority board meets in Sacramento.
The agency on Friday issued the 101-page draft 2014 Business Plan for at least two months of public comment before a final version is submitted to the state Legislature as required by May 1.
The draft plan — the first update since the rail authority’s April 2012 business plan — estimates the construction cost for Phase 1 of the statewide project from San Francisco to Los Angeles at about $67.6 billion.
The new forecast is down slightly from $68.4 billion estimated in 2012, but still more than double the $33 billion predicted in 2008 when California voters approved Proposition 1A, a $9.9 billion bond measure to help finance high-speed rail planning and construction.
The Texas Department of Transportation is conducting a study on the benefits of building a high-speed rail connecting Dallas, Waco, Austin and San Antonio. The plans for the rail include 16 trains a day that would run along a dedicated 100-foot right of way.
While Texas DOT officials have said the costs of the rail are undetermined, they estimate that it would cost around $10.5 billion.
The trains would average 100 to 140 mph and have peak speeds of 220 mph. In addition, officials estimate tickets would be about 80 percent the cost of flying.
A rail system that would connect the four cities along a 300-mile stretch of land is a great idea, especially because it would run through Waco. The study is ongoing and will be completed by the end of the year.
When Amtrak Northeast Regional #171 departs Boston on Feb. 7, a new era of mobility will begin as the first of 70 new advanced technology electric locomotives enters revenue service. The modern equipment provides more reliable and efficient service for passengers, and will power the Northeast region’s economic growth and continued prosperity.
“Amtrak is integral to the daily life of the Northeast and the new locomotives will keep the people and businesses of the region connected and on the move,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. “New equipment ensures Amtrak can deliver the reliable service the region depends on and supports the growth of the region as America’s economic powerhouse.”
“Beyond improved reliability of service, the new locomotives represent a prudent business decision to invest in the future of the Northeast region and better position Amtrak to support ridership growth in the coming years,” said Amtrak Chairman Tony Coscia.