Those who support railroads are talking up their benefits to Illinois.
“Our trains serve many of our public and private university campus communities. In Macomb, home of Western Illinois University, the university has seen on-campus car registrations drop from 80 percent to 60 percent since they built a transit transfer center right across the street from the Amtrak station. And in Normal, where Illinois State University is located, the city’s new multi-modal station is the centerpiece of the community, and is has helped to leverage $200 million in private investment around that station,” said Ann Schneider, head of the Illinois Department of Transportation.
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She was among the speakers at a roundtable discussion involving a congressional subcommittee.
Springfield Mayor Mike Houston talked about the efforts being made with high-speed rail and the amount of rail traffic goes through the city. “Today there are 33 trains that pass through Springfield on a daily basis. It is estimated that by the year 2030 that number will increase to 81 trains daily. The vast majority of those trains will be freight trains, coming and going from central point intermodal center in Joliet, Ill. There will not only be more freight trains, they will be heavier and they will be much longer,” Houston said.
Champaign Mayor Don Gerard testified to the importance of improving rail stations in Illinois, especially with a large number of foreign students who need transportation to airports and Chicago. “We’re the city that would be completely set up, prepared, have the money, the revenue sources, the credit and the partnerships to launch such a program, to have something like this be a complete success,” Gerard said.