Gov. Rauner announces Springfield high-speed rail agreement
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner announced a tentative agreement Friday to move most rail traffic in the city of Springfield out of its historic downtown.
Rauner called the pact — which he said came after 15 years of disputes — a victory for Springfield residents and visitors and for travelers along the high-speed rail line between Chicago and St. Louis.
He said train traffic will move from the Third Street corridor — where trains can shut down vehicle and pedestrian traffic in parts of the city’s center several times a day — to the 10th Street corridor east of downtown. The move will occur “as soon as practical,” he said.
Rauner, who lives in the governor’s mansion near the Third Street tracks, counted himself among the backers of the move.
“As a proud resident of Springfield, I am a supporter of this to get the rail line out from the middle of town,” he said.
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported (http://bit.ly/1GK68Qe ) that transportation officials estimate it will cost about $315 million over at least 10 years to relocate Union Pacific and Amtrak trains to the Norfolk Southern corridor at 10th Street.
In the near term though, the deal could mean heavier train traffic on the downtown rail line as improvements are made on 10th Street.
Bill Edley of Quiet Zone Now, a resident organization pushing to end train horns on Third Street, said the group was hoping the deal would include a quiet zone. He said he’s anticipating hearing horns “at all hours of the night” because that’s not part of the agreement.
Illinois has committed about $300 million and the federal government more than $1 billion for 110-mph Amtrak service between St. Louis and Chicago.