GARY, Ind. - Indiana has requested $71.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to improve the congested Norfolk Southern rail line that connects Chicago to Detroit. The Indiana Department of Transportation has proposed upgrading eight locations between Porter and the Illinois state line that would reduce delay time by 61 percent and save 752 gallons of fuel each week.
The application says the proposal "addresses the single most delay-prone intercity rail passenger corridor in the country, doing so in a way that provides both stand-alone congestion relief benefits as well as a path towards development of the lane as a high-speed corridor."
The Federal Rail Administration is anticipated to approve grants for this category of High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail funds no later than February. If approved, most construction would take place in 2010 and 2011, with the lines remaining in active service. According to federal estimates, 703 jobs would be created or saved during the project's time frame. A copy of Indiana's application can be found online at http://indot.IN.gov/3064.htm.
"By improving on-time performance and reliability of service on the fourteen daily Amtrak trains," the application says, "these independent improvements will each produce manifold environmental benefits by retaining existing Amtrak ridership and diverting new riders from private automobiles."
Indiana is one of nine member states in the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, an ongoing effort to develop and expand access to an improved passenger rail system in the Midwest. This proposed system would provide high-speed rail service (80-110 mph) with shorter travel times, increased frequency of service, accessibility and reliability. Other participating states are Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
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