On April 16, 2009, President Obama announced a new vision for developing high-speed passenger rail in America. The vision called for a collaborative effort among the Federal Government, States, railroads, and other key stakeholders to help transform America's transportation system through the creation of a national network of high-speed rail corridors. To achieve this vision, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) launched the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program in June 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). On January 28, 2010, Illinois was selected for a $1.2 billion federal award to bring high-speed passenger rail service to Illinois by 2015-2017. In addition to the ARRA funding, the Illinois Capitol Bill has appropriated $400 million for high-speed rail.
On April 4, 2011, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) submitted applications to the Federal Railroad Administration for additional HSIPR Program funding. View the applications
On October 28, 2011, IDOT submitted an application to the United States Department of Transportation for program funding for fencing and intersection improvements through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or “TIGER Discretionary Grant” application process. View the application
On March 19, 2012, IDOT submitted an application to the United States Department of Transportation for program funding for fencing, road and grade crossing enhancements, and passenger grade separation at Normal Station through the "TIGER Discretionary Grant" application process. View the application
In June 2009, FRA released guidance on implementing the vision for developing high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects under the ARRA.
The applications were individually reviewed and assessed by the FRA against evaluation criteria in three categories: public return on investment, project success factors, and other attributes (such as timeliness of project completion).
In response to the FRA guidance, IDOT prepared an application for funding under FRA's HSIPR Program for the Chicago to St. Louis and Chicago to Dubuque corridors. The FRA required a corridor-wide National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study when submitting an application. The FRA's guidance encouraged agencies to tier their environmental reviews into stages, Tier 1 and Tier 2. The purpose of the Tier 1 environmental review is to document potential environmental impacts at the corridor or program level. Any project specific issues, such as environmental impacts associated with specific improvements, will be addressed in a Tier 2 NEPA document.
Using this approach, broader programs are covered under a Tier 1 NEPA document, such as a corridor-wide Environmental Assessment (EA). In a Tier 2 NEPA document, site-specific projects or actions are addressed in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), EA, or categorical exclusion (CE) document.
To support the applications for the Chicago to St. Louis and Chicago to Dubuque corridors, IDOT prepared a Tier 1 corridor-wide EA for each corridor.
Project selections for the applications were announced by the FRA on January 28, 2010. Illinois received $1.2 billion to bring high-speed passenger rail service to Illinois by 2015-2017. Illinois’ signature high-speed rail route received $1.1 billion for corridor improvements between Dwight and St. Louis. The corridor improvements will only take place between Dwight and St. Louis as a result of the 2004 Record of Decision (ROD) that states no action will take place between Dwight and Chicago. Illinois also received $1.25 million to fund the completion of an EIS for the full build out from Chicago to St. Louis. The additional funding ($133 million) was allocated to the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program. The Chicago to Dubuque corridor did not receive funding.
In January 2012, Illinois received $186.3 million for corridor improvements between Joliet and Dwight.
ARRA requires that, to the maximum extent possible, Grantees such as IDOT award fixed price contracts through the use of competitive bidding. Only a few high of the high speed rail contracts were not both fixed price and competitively bid. These contracts were entered into between the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR). UPRR, the owner of the railroad, will perform work on its Chicago to St. Louis rail line. The Chicago to St. Louis route has been designated to operate passenger trains up to 110 miles per hour.
On November 19, 2012, Governor Pat Quinn, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, IDOT Secretary Ann L. Schneider, and leaders from Sumitomo Corporation of America (SCOA) announced that Illinois-based Nippon Sharyo was awarded a $352 million contract from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The contract will allow Nippon Sharyo, a railcar manufacturing company, to build 130 passenger railcars that will be delivered throughout the Midwest and California starting in 2015.This next generation equipment procurement is being funded through the FRA and has met all requirements to ensure that the final assembly be prepared by American workers, with American-sourced steel, iron, and manufactured components.