Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Federal Stimulus Dollars Could Make Illinois A Bright Spot In Any Recovery

Illinois is among the top five states receiving federal stimulus cash to create jobs on transportation and clean water construction projects, according to information released recently by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Only Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Indiana have created more construction jobs by accelerating the spending of their shares of the total $26.9 billion appropriated by Congress for such projects. Additional stimulus cash slated for clean ups at Department of Energy nuclear sites in the state is also putting more hard hats to work here.

Another uncharacteristically prompt response to stimulus appropriations has been the Illinois participation in a multi-state effort to grab a big slice of the $8 billion federal pie appropriated for spending on development of high speed passenger rail transportation corridors. Illinois officials are lobbying hard for $2 billion of that money to come to our state. A lot of that money could go to tiny Mount Vernon, Illinois, where National Railway Equipment Co. already builds diesel electric locomotives for export, and has begun design work on an aerodynamic slope nosed passenger engine capable of cruising at 110 miles per hour.

National Railway Equipment now builds and sells freight locomotives with 60% better fuel economy, and 85% better noise control, that other models. The company's N-Viromotive technology uses multiple 700 horsepower diesel engines in place of the single mammoth diesels used in more traditional freight locomotives.

Of course, we can't count suburban LaGrange based Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. out of the competition for high speed passenger rail locomotive technology, either. All this high speed rail development has been going on here for several months, mostly under the radar. I guess the cheering will begin when the cash starts flowing.
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