A proposed high-speed rail corridor linking Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and St. Louis received a boost last week when it became eligible for federal funding.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Andrew Card made the announcement that the Midwest corridor was among five corridors in the nation to be eligible for $30 million in special funding authorized by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991.

In a press release, Gov. Jim Edgar of Illinois said the funds would be used for the elimination of rail-highway grade crossings, "an important element in allowing trains to travel at higher speeds."

Martha Schiebel, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said the department has estimated the cost of high-speed rail for the entire corridor at $1.5 billion.

Schiebel said Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin have been awarded $2.82 million of the federal money so far. She said the remainder of the $30 million, to be shared with the four other corridors nationwide, will have to be applied for over a six-year period.

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