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Chicago Closer to High-Speed Hub Reality?

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Feb 26, 2009 6:20PM

Map via NPR

Last October, we took a look at the possibility of Chicago becoming the center of a nine-state high-speed Amtrak network. With the passage of President Obama's stimulus package, though, this could be much closer to reality. Among the bill's provisions is $8 billion for high-speed transit lines, now seemingly up for grabs. It hasn't yet been decided how much money will be spent and where, but there's already controversy over which proposed line will get the money and even over one of the lines itself, one GOP'ers have taken to calling "The Sin Express," which would connect San Diego to Anaheim and then Las Vegas.

The "Sin Express" argument aside, it seems like a battle is shaping up for who will get the biggest slice of the transit pie as U.S. Senate Leader Harry Reid (of Nevada) will be making a play for his area, but he'll be going up against Illinois' own...President Obama. The Midwest line also has the Federal Railroad Administration on its side thanks to a layout that would connect up to 11 major metro areas (St. Louis, the Twin Cities, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, etc) within a 400 miles of Chicago, the proposed hub. As for what kind of train would be used, while Amtrak was batted about for the Midwest, the "Sin Express" folks are looking into maglev technology, a system which uses magnets to cause trains to levitate that is currently in use in Shanghai.