The federal government made its first real investment in high-speed rail this past month, awarding $8 billion in grants, with $1.2 billion flowing to Illinois. Transit advocates can expect some additional funding
to makes its way to the state in the next few years, although Congress' future commitment is unknown. In a new report, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)
argues that the government needs to support rail
infrastructure in the same way it funds the interstate highway system. For instance, local funding for highway projects is matched by the federal government at a four-to-one ratio.
PIRG estimates that building a comprehensive system in the Midwest would create over 57,000 permanent jobs. Phineas Baxandall, a senior analyst for U.S. PIRG, explains some of the report's specifics in a blog post here.