About three and a half years after President Obama made an $8 billion push for high-speed rail in the stimulus bill, the states that put the funding to good use are starting to see results. Trains are now traveling at speeds greater than 100 miles per hour in the Midwest. That's progress.
Last week, a train traveling between Joliet and Normal, Illinois hit 111 miles per hour -- a record for Amtrak outside of the Northeast Corridor. Local and national leaders, including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, shared a well-deserved celebratory moment on that St. Louis-bound train.
LaHood said on the train, “Four years ago, we were nowhere. Illinois and the country was a wasteland when it comes to high-speed rail.” Grid Chicago readers know that Illinois secured over $2 billion in federal grants through President Obama’s ARRA stimulus program to build new tracks, buy new trains, and study a possible new double-track alignment for the Lincoln Service route...
Amtrak’s state-subsidized routes in Illinois have seen year-over-year ridership increases. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said he would eliminate federal subsidies to Amtrak. Lincoln Service trains have seen speeds improving since last year when significant lengths of brand-new track was laid. Cutting subsidies would likely slow the ridership increases, which are based on Americans’ desire for additional and reliable transportation options; passenger rail provides an alternative to high gas prices.
Elsewhere on the Network today: The League of American Bicyclists offers new details, from FHWA, about how the new transportation bill will affect biking and walking programs. Bike Redlands shares a video explaining how cycling could help save small towns. And Bike Walk Lee is honored by the Alliance for Biking and Walking for its actions to help a south Florida Gulf Coast community become safer and more livable.