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Thursday, June 23, 2011 04:07 pm

Durbin on the rail

Something about the Springfield rail consolidation seems to have spooked Sen. Dick Durbin, our senior Illinois senator in Washington. Maybe it was the State Journal-Register article today that has Springfield Mayor Mike Houston and Sangamon County Board Chairman Andy Van Meter disagreeing with the "official" federal estimates of the project's cost.

 Whatever the cause, Durbin is calling together the entire Illinois Congressional delegation to meet with Houston, Van Meter and representatives from engineering firm Hanson Professional Services for a little discussion about federal funding options.

 Durbin wrote:

“I am writing to request your participation in a meeting to discuss possible rail consolidation in Springfield.  As you may know, there have been several conflicting accounts regarding the size, scope and price of rail consolidation options currently under review. Two years ago, many of us gathered for a similar meeting with the goal of finding a path forward on Springfield rail consolidation.  That meeting was helpful in keeping all of the parties at the table and ultimately resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding.”

The letter was also sent to the Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary, Gary Hannig; Federal Railroad Administration, Joe Szabo; the CEOs of the three major railroads Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and Canadian National; and Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman.

 This could be a big deal for Springfield, because the funding mechanism has thus far been pretty nebulous. If Houston and Van Meter can nail down the cost and some money to back it up, it will be a huge victory, regardless of what corridor the consolidation eventually takes.

 Here's the full text of the release in PDF form: http://www.illinoistimes.com/Springfield/file-99-.pdf

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