Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (L) and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn shake hands after signing a Missouri-Illinois Memorandum of Understanding to solidify the bi-state partnership to seek federal recovery funds to establish a high-speed passenger rail line between Chicago and St. Louis, in St. Louis on June 22, 2009. Just days after the federal government issued guidance to states on the application process for high-speed rail funding, the two Governors outlined their vision for a Chicago-to-St. Louis line as a tool for job-creation and regional economic growth.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn today visited the St. Louis Gateway Amtrak Station to detail their shared priorities for competing for federal recovery funds to establish a high-speed passenger rail line between Chicago and St. Louis.
Just days after the federal government issued guidance to states on the application process for high-speed rail funding, the two Governors outlined their vision for a Chicago-to-St. Louis line as a tool for job-creation and regional economic growth. In addition, the Governors signed a Missouri-Illinois Memorandum of Understanding to solidify the bi-state partnership on this critical recovery project.
"As always, the Show-Me State is ready to lead the nation in the development of this next-generation mode of transportation between two of the major commercial centers in the nation," Gov. Nixon said. "Because of the planning and foresight of our Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, enhancing the route from Chicago to St. Louis for high-speed trains would create jobs immediately, provide a cost-effective alternative for travelers and position the entire corridor for economic recovery, growth and transformation in the years to come. I look forward to working closely Gov. Quinn and our colleagues in other states to promote high-speed rail throughout the Midwest, beginning with the priority line between Chicago and St. Louis."
"We must follow President Obama's lead by investing in growth and efficiency for transportation and make high-speed rail in the Midwest a reality," said Governor Quinn. "I look forward to working with Governor Nixon to compete for the approximately $8 billion dollars in competitive funds for intercity rail that would allow us to reduce the travel time from Chicago to St. Louis, the fastest growing train route in the state, from more than 5 hours to less than 4."
Last Wednesday, President Barack Obama's administration released guidelines for state applications for high-speed rail funding. Based on these federal guidelines, rail projects in the Midwest, and especially the Chicago-to-St. Louis line, appear well-positioned to compete for these recovery funds. Under the guidelines, special consideration will go to projects that can be completed quickly, that will create jobs immediately and that will result in a demonstrable benefit for the public.
Both Missouri and Illinois are members of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, which has been studying, planning and evaluating possible rail expansions throughout the region since the mid-1990s. In addition, the state of Illinois already has completed an environmental impact study on the Chicago-to-St. Louis corridor.
Today's Memorandum of Understanding further underscores the priority Gov. Nixon and Gov. Quinn share for leveraging these existing data and additional resources to ensure a competitive advantage for this priority project. As the memorandum indicates, "[Both] states will work cooperatively, bringing to bear all the appropriate resources, expertise, and information of each state for the purposes of transforming state economies and enhancing regional transportation infrastructure by competing for federal high-speed rail funding for a high-speed rail line connecting downtown Chicago, Illinois, with downtown St. Louis, Missouri."
The federal guidelines have established a deadline of July 10, 2009, for funding pre-applications and a final deadline of Aug. 24, 2009, for complete applications. The guidelines define "high-speed rail" trains as those that operate at 110 to 150 miles per hour, covering segments of track ranging between 100 and 600 miles in length. Under the federal recovery act, up to $8 billion in funds will be available for high-speed and intercity rail projects.