The investment will allow the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Union Pacific Railroad to move forward with construction of a new bridge over the Kankakee River near Wilmington, as well as other safety and capacity enhancements along the corridor between Joliet and Dwight.
“This investment is going to put people to work and take us one step closer to completing the high-speed rail connection between Chicago and St. Louis,” said governor Pat Quinn.
The US$102m investment will build a second set of tracks between Mazonia and Elwood, including the new Kankakee River bridge to accommodate the increased capacity. The work, which will be performed by the Union Pacific Railroad and overseen by IDOT, will take place in 2016 and 2017.
Once completed, the improvements will eliminate about five minutes in travel time immediately and put the final upgrades in place between Joliet and Dwight in anticipation of the eventual double-tracking of the remainder of the Chicago-St Louis corridor. This double-tracking will then allow more daily round-trips at increased 110mph speeds.
The announcement pushes the state’s total commitment to the Chicago-St. Louis route to US$358.8m, with the remainder of the US$1.7bn project federally funded. Trains currently travel at 110mph between Dwight and Pontiac. By the end of 2015, the trip between Chicago and St. Louis will be reduced to 5 hours from the current 5.5 hours. When all of the improvements are finished in 2017, the trip will have been reduced to 4.5 hours.