Friday, March 19, 2004

Rail investments -- a high-speed network is overdue, cheap and very doable

Chicago is the rail capital of the country. Our airports are hitting capacity. About a fifth of all flights out of O'Hare are to cities within 400 miles (like Milwaukee, Champaign, Indianapolis, Detroit, Madison, St. Louis). This is dumb.

We should have high-speed trains to relieve congestion at the airports and to get more downtown-to-downtown trips possible.

There's a meeting on Saturday of the Midwest High-Speed Rail Coalition. I'm a member and I hope you will join as well (tell them DJW sent you).

And there is a plan (without any money so far) to alleviate the rail bottlenecks in Chicago (the downside to being the rail capitol of the nation is that lots of the tracks intersect). So, the Amtrak from Carbondale and Urbana-Champaign has to go backwards in Chicago, almost within sight of Union Station, costing an extra 20 minutes at least. These delays caused by ancient and under-invested infrastructure would be eliminated by the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE), a join program of the City of Chicago, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the major railroads (since all the rail is owned by private freight companies, not the government). The cost is $1.5 billion. And Congressman Bill Lipinski is leading the charge to get that money.

A news article from an advocacy group on the project is here.

If only we could call Union Station an airport (that uses trains instead of planes), maybe we could get some of the $12 billion (!!) that will go into O'Hare's modernization.

No comments: