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updated: 11/16/2012 10:43 AM

Illinois high-speed rail gets environmental approval

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  • In this March 22, 2011 file photo, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin are joined by state and local officials as they announce the next phase of high-speed rail construction during a news conference at an Amtrak maintenance building in Chicago.

      In this March 22, 2011 file photo, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin are joined by state and local officials as they announce the next phase of high-speed rail construction during a news conference at an Amtrak maintenance building in Chicago.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

Illinois and the federal government have approved an environmental impact statement for the high-speed rail line under construction between Chicago and St. Louis.

The review is an important step because it identifies a route through Springfield that would end a dispute that had threatened to hold up the project.

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It also recommends a route around some of the congested tangle of rail lines between Chicago and suburban Joliet. Upgrades to that suggested corridor would be $500 million cheaper than the existing route because fewer overpasses would be needed.

The assessment also clears the way for possibly building a dedicated line in the future so passenger trains wouldn't have to share track with freight trains.

Upgrades for 110-mph service over most of the line should be finished by 2015.

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