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Illinois Seeking Two Grants For High-Speed Train Project

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM) -- Illinois is working with three other states to secure nearly $1 billion in the latest redistribution of Obama administration high-speed rail money.

The deadline to apply was Monday.

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There are two grants being sought. One, amounting to $806.8 million, is being sought jointly by Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin to purchase higher-speed trains that would replace or supplement slower, aging Amtrak trains on lines radiating from Chicago to Detroit, Grand Rapids, St. Louis, Kansas City and Milwaukee.

The $806.8 million encompasses a grant application first announced last week by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who previously turned back $810 million intended for extension of the Chicago-Milwaukee Amtrak Hiawatha service to Madison, Wis.

Illinois Dept. of Transportation (IDOT) spokesman Guy Trigdell said a separate grant, filed by the state of Illinois, seeks $186 million in additional federal funding for the Chicago-St. Louis line that is being upgraded to 110-mile-an-hour speeds.

The state would provide a $42.4 million match for the money, and private railroads would provide $19.7 million, Trigdell said. The grant would be spent on additional track improvements, longer passing sidings, improved signals and upgraded crossing protection.

A third grant application seeks $800,000 to undertake planning for an Amtrak station in East St. Louis. The state would provide a $200,000 grant, he said.

Trigdell said that the U.S. Dept. of Transportation has not indicated when it will make its decision. In all, more than 20 states have applied for the $2.4 billion dollars in funding, rejected in February by newly-elected Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Illinois received $1.2 billion in the first round of high-speed rail grants last year, and received an additional $43 million after new governors in Wisconsin and Ohio rejected their grants.

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