High Speed Rail Project on Track to Be Completed
By Chris Slaby
The Illinois Department of Transportation says nearly all the track has been laid between Chicago to St. Louis for high-speed rail.
￼So far, 15 miles of high-speed rail is done, between Dwight and Pontiac, which means trains can travel above 100 miles per hour along that stretch.
Joe Shacter is IDOT’s director of public and intermodal transportation. Shacter said rail has been placed between Dwight and Alton, so almost the entire route is covered.
Almost – because another 40 miles are still needed between Dwight and Joliet, and the entire distance between Chicago and St. Louis will not be high-speed.
“All but two ends of the corridor, from Chicago-Joliet, and Alton-St. Louis, will be 100 mile-per-hour max speed," Shacter said.
Shacter said additional rail is still needed along the main track, so freight trains can clear the way for passenger trains.
“It is really neat to look out the window and be roaring by the cars on Interstate-55," he added.
Shacter also said gates with arms are now required at each crossing to prevent collisions, and existing gates will be modified to lower more quickly for the faster trains.
Shacter said Illinois will only pay $150 million from a state construction account. The rest of the estimated $1.6 billion needed will come from the federal government.
Shacter said high-speed travel should start up by fall 2015, and the project should be done by the end of 2017.