Want to know if “high speed rail” plays in Peoria? It depends on which Peorian you ask. In remarks prepared for a speech last month, U. S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said to “forget the critics and naysayers” of high-speed rail. LaHood can find a big-name naysayer almost within walking distance of his own home: his own successor in Congress, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Peoria).
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“Taking the train from 70 mph to 90 mph is not ‘high-speed train,’ in the minds of my constituents,” said Schock, referring to plans for the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, on which trains are supposed to operate at 110 mph. “Can we afford a billion dollars a mile of true high-speed? The answer is a resounding no.”
Schock said he has ridden the super-fast trains in France and China, which, he said, go 200-300 mph – and which his tax dollars did not support. He said President Obama has failed to make the case that this is something people even want, citing the failure of Congress to directly appropriate a project for it.
Schock says the money came from the stimulus program, which drew a response from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.): “Ask the congressman what he thinks about the new Peoria International Airport terminal, which was built with stimulus funds that he voted against.” Durbin said Schock shouldn’t criticize from railside: “Want to ride an Amtrak train in Illinois? Better call ahead and get a reservation!”