Illinois has been notified by the Department of Transportation that it will get another $186 million in rail grants, coming out of $2 billion the DOT is reallocating from funds Florida rejected for a high speed passenger rail project.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced the award, along with Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill. The money will help upgrade the Chicago to St. Louis corridor, part of a multi-year project that will allow 110 mph passenger trains to run on tracks owned and used by freight operator Union Pacific Railroad.
That corridor has already received about $1.2 billion in federal funds for the upgrades, which replace wooden crossties with high-capacity concrete ones, build more siding tracks for passing trains and improve signal systems. UP performed some of the construction last year and will do more throughout the 2011 work season. The state will apply the new grant award money to work between the towns of Dwight and Joliet.
The Illinois officials also said the DOT told congressional appropriators Wednesday that it has so far “reprogrammed $400 million of the $2 billion in funding that was rejected by the governor of Florida,” including the $186 million for Illinois.
The DOT has not confirmed that action, announced the Illinois award or even said when it will make available funds that Florida turned down. The department had first told states it would take applications for $2.4 billion in money to be reallocated from Florida and a small amount from other unused funds, but the 2011 budget deal last month stripped $400 million from that pool.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had only said the DOT would want to act quickly to get the money redistributed, so that other states could put it to use for job creation.
The new Illinois award means that state has received more than $1.4 billion in rail grants, counting money for Chicago’s CREATE project to untangle congested rail lines, development of new Amtrak passenger service from Chicago to the Quad Cities at Moline, Ill., as part of a potential service into Iowa City, Iowa, and the Chicago-St. Louis line program.
Quinn and the senators noted that last December, Illinois also received $42.3 million in passenger rail grants that had been rejected by the governors of Ohio and Wisconsin.
-- Contact John D. Boyd at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jboydjoc.