Metra strongly supports Senator Durbin and Governor Quinn in their efforts to secure additional funding for the Chicago-St. Louis high-speed rail line. The Metra Heritage Corridor line, as well as the freight railroad congestion mitigation project known as CREATE, would significantly benefit if Illinois could capture a portion of the $8 billion in high-speed rail funds from the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Metra's Heritage Corridor line from Chicago to Joliet operates on the first segment of the proposed Chicago-St. Louis high speed rail line. Commuter and freight trains operate on the same tracks in this corridor, while many of the region's other freight railroads intersect this line. In addition to the traffic and numerous rail and highway grade crossings, antiquated signal and switching equipment is also a burden on railroad operations. These issues result in Metra delays and operating inefficiencies for the freight railroads.
The Chicago-Joliet segment can only operate as a high-speed rail line when the issues that contribute to commuter and freight delays in northeast Illinois are resolved. The investment in capital infrastructure improvements will enhance the reliability of Metra service and improve freight operations while laying the groundwork for successful high-speed rail service. Several years ago, Metra identified projects needed to eliminate many of the commuter/freight conflicts that exist today.
Plans for these projects are available, can be easily updated and are "shovel ready."
Again, Metra applauds Senator Durbin and Governor Quinn for taking the early lead to capture federal funds for Illinois. We stand ready to assist in any way possible to help bring those much-needed dollars back to the great state of Illinois.
Philip A. Pagano