A high-speed rail linking Chicago and St. Louis is taking a big step today. The Daily Journal reports that a groundbreaking event this afternoon in Dwight, Illinois, marked the construction of the first station that will service the rail line, which promises to exceed speeds of 120mph.
The prospect of a high-speed rail coming to Illinois has long been talked about but never executed. In 2012, Amtrak began a 110mph service on a 15-mile segment between Dwight and Pontiac, but it still tops out at 80mph throughout the rest of the state. The Obama Administration has allocated more than $11 billion since 2009 to develop faster passenger trains nationwide, but the initiative has widely been considered a failure.
In May, the Illinois Senate passed a resolution urging Governor Bruce Rauner and IDOT to prepare "an investment grade ridership analysis" for a high-speed rail project that would connect O'Hare Airport to Union Station, Rockford and the rest of the planned Chicago to St. Louis project. The resolution has not yet been acted upon, but it aims to bring about a study capable of attracting federal and private investments that would help bring the Midwest's rail systems into the 21st century.
In any case, the groundbreaking in Dwight is a big step forward in the progress of quicker rail service in Illinois. If the state and Amtrak continue to make such strides, Chicago will become more accessible to downstate commuters and tourists alike.