CHICAGO (May 23, 2013) -- Midwest High Speed Rail Association Executive Director Richard Harnish released the following statement Thursday in response to Illinois State Rep. Donald Moffitt’s (74th District) proposal of a new bill proposing a study leading to the creation of a new east-west Amtrak line in Illinois:
“Rep. Moffitt has identified a missing link in our state’s mass transportation system.
“The addition of a new Amtrak route linking population and commercial centers would be a major enhancement of our rail system, and a stepping-stone to further expansion and improvement of the system.
“Today, if you need to travel between Chicago and Springfield, Galesburg, Peoria, Normal and Urbana-Champaign or over to the Quad Cities, you are most likely to drive.
“By adding this new route, we can reduce the expense and environmental harm related to auto or air travel, while improving the opportunities for business and recreational travel within our state.
“Imagine the boost Illinois tourism will receive when families can hop by rail to the Lincoln sites, and when college students can make the Champaign trip in an easy, affordable and wi-fi enabled train. Not to mention the commercial advantages of a direct link to the Quad Cities, which is now one of the faster growing economies in our region.
“This addition and the public’s utilization of it will help to lay the solid foundation for future modernization--especially for the full implementation of high-speed rail between Chicago and St. Louis and other major midwest destinations.
“In a time when our sights should be fixed on public works that can aid in the economic recovery of our region, this seems to be one of the neglected areas. The Illinois Department of Transportation should immediately begin a study of the prospective costs and benefits of such a new rail link. This will offer us the facts we need to consider the value of such an investment. Therefore the MHSRA enthusiastically welcomes Rep. Moffitt’s introduction of HR 0374.”