Environmental Documentation

Tier 1

About the Project

In 2010, Illinois received federal funding to complete a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This project is the next step in the Illinois High-Speed Rail Chicago to St. Louis program. The 16-month Tier 1 EIS identified and evaluated improvements needed to accommodate higher speed (125 mph maximum) trains and additional daily round trips. Higher speed trains would reduce travel time, increase service reliability, and enhance safety. The Tier 1 EIS is separate from the construction currently taking place along the corridor.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Chicago to St. Louis High-Speed Rail Program. Get more information.
An EIS is a process established under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and is required for federal projects that might significantly impact the human environment. Due to the complexity and length of the proposed project corridor (284 miles), a tiered EIS process was used.

The current corridor consists primarily of a single track that is shared by both freight and passenger rail service (Amtrak). The Tier I EIS assessed: changing the existing rail corridor from one to two tracks; increasing the number of high-speed passenger trains; and determining potential corridor route alternatives between Chicago and Joliet, through the City of Springfield, and the approach to St. Louis.

The Tier 1 EIS also considered transportation and environmental impacts that could arise from proposed improvements along the corridor such as natural resources, noise, vibration, air quality, historic and archaeological sites, farmland, and communities.

Stakeholder input, combined with the results from the alternatives analysis, was considered. However, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is ultimately responsible for making the final determination. The Final Tier 1 EIS included a recommended course of action known as a preferred alternative. The completion of the EIS is necessary to apply for additional federal funding for potential improvements.

Study Area

The Tier 1 EIS determined routing alternatives between Chicago and Joliet, the Springfield area, and the approach to St. Louis. This corridor includes approximately 284 miles of primarily Union Pacific railroad track. Amtrak currently provides existing passenger service to eleven counties in Illinois and serves the cities of Chicago, Summit, Joliet, Dwight, Pontiac, Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville, Alton, and St. Louis.

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