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Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 03:59 pm

HIGH-SPEED, SLOW START

There’s finally some agreement on high-speed rail in Springfield, but it seems to be an agreement to disagree.

The city, county and Illinois Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that an impact study would be conducted to measure the effects of a proposed high-speed rail expansion on Third Street and 10th Street. That follows a unanimous vote by the Springfield City Council on Tuesday authorizing mayor Tim Davlin to sign a memorandum of understanding with IDOT on the issue. IDOT agrees to trade $4 million to the city for the study in return for support of its pending application to the Federal Railroad Administration.

A previous impact study performed in 2003 evaluated the Third Street option only, and did not account for the drastic increase in freight traffic expected with the current expansion.

The impact study will likely require federal approval and about 16 months of research.

The city and county favor 10th Street to avoid disrupting the downtown and to avoid drastic mitigation efforts like overpasses and road closings, but IDOT favors Third Street because it would mean faster project completion. IDOT’s October application for $4.5 billion in federal funds for the project said the 10th street option could push construction back as far as 2015.
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