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February 1, 2013

Paris Ervin (IDOT) 217.782.5025
Mike Claffey (IDOT) 312.814.3198

Illinois Transportation Secretary Announces Next Step to Advance Toward Full High-Speed Rail Service from Chicago to St. Louis

IDOT Selects Consultant Firms to Complete Environmental Studies for the Project

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider announced today the three consultant firms recently selected to complete Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and advance the high-speed rail project from Chicago to St. Louis.

“The environmental studies are a crucial element to move projects of this magnitude to construction,” said Secretary Schneider. “Once these environmental studies are complete and approved by the Federal Railroad Administration, we will be several steps closer to offering high-speed rail service on the entire Chicago-St. Louis corridor in Illinois.”

Through the leadership of Senator Durbin and Governor Quinn, Illinois has received more than $1.4 billion in federal funding to develop high-speed service between Chicago and St. Louis, which is expected to reduce travel times between the two cities and create about 6,200 direct and indirect jobs. The governor’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program has invested a total of $400 million toward high-speed rail. In 2012, the first trains traveling at 110 mph made their successful debut on a stretch between Dwight and Pontiac during a demonstration run and began service for daily passengers. The project will deliver 110 mile per hour rail service between Dwight and Alton by 2015 and between Dwight and Joliet by 2017.

Hanson Professional Services was selected to complete the environmental study for the Springfield Flyover component, a needed rail overpass south of Springfield to eliminate a bottleneck for train congestion. Parsons Transportation Group was selected to complete the environmental study for the Chicago to Joliet corridor segment, and Michael Baker Jr. and STV Inc. were selected for the Alton to St. Louis corridor segment.

As part of the project requirements, each consultant firm is required to meet or exceed a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goal for subcontractors working on the projects. The DBE goal for the Springfield Flyover is 25 percent, Chicago to Joliet is 30 percent and Alton to St. Louis is 20 percent. The total cost for the three environmental studies is $47 million.

For large projects, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) encourages agencies to tier their environmental reviews in stages, Tier 1 and Tier 2. The Tier 1 environmental review received final approval in December 2012 by the FRA, and documents potential environmental impacts at the corridor or program level. In a Tier 2 environmental document, more site-specific projects or actions are addressed to prepare for construction. The EIS is required to complete the full build-out of the project, including the double-tracking and route improvements between Joliet and Chicago, through the city of Springfield and from Alton to St. Louis.

The consultant firms were among a total of 21 selected by the IDOT Consultant Selection Committee last week for 21 projects totaling $68 million as advertised in the Professional Transportation Bulletin.

To follow progress, updates and completed improvements along the signature Chicago-St. Louis high-speed rail corridor, please visit For the latest Amtrak schedules, fares and more information, visit or call 800-USA-RAIL.

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