Plan to create commission on high-speed rail heads to governor

A suburban lawmaker's legislation to create a statewide plan for a high-speed rail system connecting St. Louis and Chicago passed the state House on Sunday.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Marty Moylan of Des Plaines, creates a High-Speed Railway Commission, which would address plans to build the rail system.

Having already passed the Senate, HB 399 will be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's desk for ratification after passing the House 101-14.

The 18-person commission would aim to establish a plan to create a high-speed rail system and "feeder network" including existing rail lines in Chicago, St. Louis, Rockford, Peoria, Decatur and Moline. The commission would dissolve Jan. 1, 2027.

Palatine Republican state Rep. Thomas Morrison opposed the bill, saying a publicly financed high-speed rail project would cost too much money and has no real demand. Elmhurst Republican Rep. Deanna Mazzochi also opposed the legislation, saying it has "superficial appeal," but there is no depth of analysis in the bill.

Geneva Republican Rep. Dan Ugaste supported the bill, however, saying Illinois needs to remain "the hub and spoke in the Midwest and rest of the nation for rail."

The 18-person commission would include a representative or appointee from the governor's office, Senate and House leaders from both parties, the Secretary of Transportation, the Chair of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority, the Chair of the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Chair of the Metra board of directors, the Mayor of Chicago, a rail workers union, rail trade workers, the Metropolitan Mayors and Managers Association, the Illinois Railroad Association, the University of Illinois, the Illinois Municipal League, a municipal planning organization, and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District.

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