Saturday, February 27, 2010

Midwest hub for HSR: Union Station or a new facility?

The Tribune's Blair Kamin reports on a proposed design and location for a new HSR station in Chicago.

"Union Station is a poor candidate to serve as a high-speed rail hub.

Despite the soaring image of its barrel-vaulted Great Hall, the passenger concourse east of the hall is confusing and confining, a warren trapped within the structural columns that hold up the office building above it. Going forward, Union Station lacks adequate space to marshal more passengers and handle more trains. Nor does it connect to the Chicago Transit Authority’s express service to O’Hare. Its fundamental problem, though, is that it isn’t really a station. It’s a terminal.

Almost all of Union Station’s tracks, whether northbound or southbound, stop at the station instead of running straight through. That’s no good if you’re a high-speed rail passenger traveling, say, from Milwaukee to Cincinnati. You’d have to change trains in Chicago. Who has time for that? You’d fly instead."

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Monday, February 22, 2010

A new Union Station is on the way!

Today, the Tribune's Blair Kamin reported on the Amtrak sponsored contest to redevelop Chicago's Union Station, one of Amtrak's most valuable assets, for the first time since it's 1992 renovation by Lucien Lagrange Architects of Chicago.
The firms chosen to compete are:
  1. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Chicago)
  2. U.S. Equities Realty (Chicago)
  3. Jones Lang LaSalle (Chicago)
  4. Goody Clancy (Boston)
  5. Wallace Roberts & Todd (Philadelphia)
  6. Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn (New York)
  7. KlingStubbins (Cambridge, MA and New York)
Late last month, the Tribune called for a redevelopment of Union Station to accommodate the increased ridership that will result from Chicago's position as the hub for high speed trains in the Midwest. Hopefully a strong proposal by one of the above 7 firms, will help secure additional TIGER funding, the same way New York was awarded $85 million for Phase 1 of Moynihan Station.

Today's announcement arrives on the heels of last week's TIGER grants, which will support high impact CREATE programs, such as the 75th Street Corridor project, that will shift Metra SouthWest Service trains to LaSalle Street station in order to free up Union Station for increased Amtrak and Metra service.

You can help the cause for a modernized Union Station by sending an email to Mayor Daley, via the Midwest HSR Association's proposal for Union Station as Chicago's downtown airport.


On a separate, but Midwest related note, the EPA will invest $2.2 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan which was signed by President Bush in 2002, to clean up their polluted beaches and water.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Boston to Chicago on Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited

Thanks to for this piece:

Also, the Infrastructurist featured a new Fox show that could be trying to scare viewers away from High Speed Rail, which isn't far off from Fox Business appearing to do the same.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Final list of TIGER grants and news from St. Paul

Sect. Ray LaHood remarks on the recently released TIGER Grants -- The White House's official release on the grants -- For a complete list of TIGER Grants - click here

Midwestern rail projects include:
  • Project NameState(s) TIGER Grant Amount
  • CREATE Program Projects IL $ 100,000,000
  • National Gateway Freight Rail Corridor OH, PA, WV, MD $ 98,000,000
  • Kansas City Transit Corridors & Green Impact Zone Project MO, KS $ 50,000,000
  • Saint Paul Union Depot Multi-Modal Transit and Transportation Hub MN $ 35,000,000
  • M1/Woodward Avenue Light Rail Project MI $ 25,000,000
  • Normal Multimodal Transportation Center IL $ 22,000,000
  • Kent Central Gateway Multimodal Transit Facility OH $ 20,000,000
  • Ames Intermodal Facility IA $ 8,463,000
  • The Southwestern Illinois Intermodal Freight Transportation Hub IL 6,000,000$

Meanwhile the Star Tribune highlights the $35 million just received for the St. Paul Union Depot.

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The battle for western Wisconsin rail is on! (Part 2)

Eau Claire makes it's case for being along the planned high speed rail corridor:

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The battle for western Wisconsin rail is on! (Part 1)

La Crosse, currently a stop on the Empire Builder (Chicago to Seattle) states it's case:

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Federal dollars for Illinois and Wisconsin rail projects

"The federal grant, being announced Wednesday, will be used to fund the 16 rail projects under the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency program, CREATE.

It's intended to unclog bottlenecks that cause freight trains to take a day or longer to pass through Chicago and block passenger trains and vehicles.

The program includes overpasses or underpasses and track and signal improvements, including a bridge to separate rail and road traffic to be built at an existing rail crossing on 71st Street in Bridgeview.

The projects will cut rail transit delays by 57,631 passenger hours per year and reduce motorist delays by 344,499 hours annually for a combined savings of nearly $10 million per year, according to CREATE, a public-private partnership of railroads and Chicago and state transportation agencies.

Train delays cost shippers $265 million a year, CREATE estimates."

Thank you to The Tribune for the story


Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel reports that "The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee agreed Tuesday to accept $822 million in federal stimulus funds for high-speed rail linking Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago, but not before lawmakers wrangled over whether the project was necessary.

The funds had been sought by Gov. Jim Doyle to link the three cities - and potentially the Twin Cities. The vote represents the final action for Wisconsin to tap the stimulus funding for rail.

The vote broke down two ways - lawmakers voted 12-4 for $810 million to build the rail system and 16-0 for improvements on the existing rail line between Milwaukee and Chicago."

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

PBS: Beyond the Motorcity

Last night, PBS debuted it's 86 minute special on the future of Detroit and the importance that transit and improved passenger rail will have to the Motorcity and the Midwest.

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HSR example: Detroit to Chicago

America 2050 has just released this video of one possibility that high speed rail will bring our region:

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