A high-speed rail line between Chicago and St. Louis would generate enough revenues to pay for new trains and improvements on existing rail lines, as well as for the new line itself, according to a study released last week by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Martha Schiebel, a spokeswoman for the department, said that bonds would finance most of the highspeed rail project, which could cost up to $355 million. The remaining costs probably would be covered by federal funds, she said.
In a press release, Kirk Brown, Illinois' transportation secretary, said that no new state dollars would be needed to help pay for the project.
The study, drafted by Price Waterhouse, said that about 1.1 million riders on a Chicago-to-St. Louis line would produce revenues of about $58 million annually.
The study proposed two options for financing construction of the rail system. The first option would allow a private developer to build and operate the system after an existing public entity has acquired the land. Under the second option, the Illinois General Assembly would create a new public authority, like the Illinois Toll Highway Authority, that would acquire land and contract with a developer to build a new rail system.
In the next 12 to 18 months, the transportation department said it would conduct engineering and environmental studies to resolve issues related to the proposed high-speed rail line.