On Friday, the Illinois Senate voted 59-0 to create the Illinois and Midwest High Speed Rail Commission with the intent of issuing a roadmap for the creation of bullet train lines in Illinois and neighboring states. Under General Assembly rules, such a commission can be created by a vote in just one of the two legislative chambers, therefore, no further legislative action is required.
The resolution creating the Commission, Senate Resolution 806, defines the group's mission as "recommending the best governmental structure for a public-private partnership to design, build, operate, maintain and finance a high-speed rail system for Illinois and the Midwest."
The Commission is to be composed of 19 members as follows:
- 10 public members appointed by the Governor.
- Three members of the Illinois House of Representatives, 2 appointed by the Speaker of the House and one appointed by the House Minority Leader.
- Threemembers of the Illinois Senate, 2 appointed by the Senate President and one appointed by the Senate Minority Leader.
- Three ex-officio members as follows:
- The Illinois Secretary of Transportation.
- The Executive Director of the Illinois Commerce Commission.
- The Executive Director of the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.
The Midwest High Speed Rail Association proposes to transform the Midwest into one cohesive, compact economic entity with a network of 220-mph bullet trains with Chicago at its heart, including a St. Louis to Chicago line that would serve Edwardsville, Springfield, Decatur, Champaign, Kankakee, the Southland, McCormick Place, Downtown Chicago and O'Hare Airport. Traveling time from Chicago to St. Louis would be 1 hour and 52 minutes.
The bullet trains would connect with both Amtrak and rapid transit at key points.
An expert economic impact study by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association found that a 220-mph high speed rail link between Chicago and St. Louis via Kankakee, Champaign, Decatur and Springfield would create 40,000 jobs and grow Downstate economies by 1 to 3 percent. The project also is estimated to take 200 million pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere each year.