GODFREY — State transportation representatives gave an update Thursday on a high-speed rail project from Alton to Chicago.
The public meeting at the Godfrey Knights of Columbus Hall focused on an environmental study of the 22-mile stretch of track from Shipman to Godfrey. Work along the section includes upgrading existing tracks, adding a second mainline track, building turnouts and fencing, adding signaling and improving at-grade crossings.
Gina Trimarco of TransSystems, a consultant for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said the project will have a permanent effect on 2.82 acres of wetlands and temporary effects on 2.71 acres of wetlands. The permanently affected wetlands will be replaced through mitigation efforts, she said. Construction also will affect 1.6 acres of native plants.
“They’re considered more moderate impacts for the length of the corridor,” Trimarco said.
The project also will close a public crossing at Gilworth Lane.
Transit time from St. Louis to Chicago will be cut to 4 1/2 hours when construction is complete on the $1.1 billion project by 2017, IDOT project manager Francesco Bellini said. Train speeds will increase from a maximum of 79 mph to 110 mph in some sections of track, allowing Amtrak to run on time.
“It will provide much more reliable service,” IDOT Passenger Rail Marketing Manager Scott Speegle said.
Safety is another benefit. Public crossings will have gates that block the entire road from traffic and a system to detect a vehicle on the tracks and alert oncoming trains.
The public comment period on the environmental study is open until April 27. After the comments are entered into public record, the design and construction phase will begin.
Public comment forms and information are available at www.idothsr.org.
“The website is the best source of information about what’s going on with the project,” Speegle said.