An agreement signed today seeking to fast-track high-speed passenger rail projects in the Midwest has three powerful engines pulling in its favor: the Obama administration, the clout of congressional delegations from eight states and the support of the nation's freight railroads.
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and the City of Chicago entered into a memorandum of understanding that commits the governments to coordinate plans to develop 110-mile-per-hour rail corridors across the Midwest.
Several governors mentioned President Barack Obama's strong support for the Midwest high-speed rail initiative, which would be comprised of a network based in Chicago and eventually branch out 3,000 miles over nine states.
But the first priority is to operate faster trains from Chicago to St. Louis; to Detroit/Pontiac; and to Milwaukee/Madison, Wis., within three to five years. Preliminary cost estimates total about $4 billion.