Today announced legislation directing the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) to designate a rail right-of-way as a "Corridor for Inter-Suburban Commuter Rail," for the promotion of mass transit across the nation, specifically for the Suburban Transit Access Route, or STAR Line. Once a corridor is designated, DOT would limit increased usage of the corridor to a project for inter-suburban commuter rail.
Specifically, Roskam's legislation would allow DOT Secretary Mary E. Peters to designate the 36-mile stretch of the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern (EJ&E) railway as a "Corridor for Inter-Suburban Commuter Rail," blocking Canadian National's (CN) attempts to gain access to this vital rail line.
"With rising gas prices, my constituents, and many suburbanites in the surrounding communities desperately need access to more efficient and cost-effective transportation options," said Roskam. "What they don't need is increased freight rolling through their backyards. Spending countless hours stuck in traffic, expending gallons-and-gallons of costly gasoline while idling hurts our working families. We can do better."
This effort would help pave the way for the nation's first suburb-to-suburb commuter line, reduce surface transportation congestion and decrease area consumption of gasoline - all leading to a greatly improved suburban transportation system.
"At a time when gas prices are approaching 5 dollars a gallon, the expansion of mass transit makes all the sense in the world," continued Roskam. "Improving the daily lives of Chicagoland residents, reducing our dependence on foreign oil and decreasing pollutants expelled into the air is reason enough to support this important piece of legislation. It is my hope that we will soon be able to move forward with the STAR Line, one of our area's most important capital projects."
The STAR Line would connect nearly 100 communities from Joliet to O'Hare International Airport, providing safe, reliable transportation options for the more than 1.6 million area residents living in high-congestion areas. The 55-mile route would run along 36-miles of the EJ&E railway and connect to a rail system along I-90.
Details of Legislation below:
Reaching for the STAR Act
The Reaching for the STAR Act would require the Secretary of Transportation to propose, for Congressional review, a corridor for inter-suburban commuter rail. To be designated such a corridor, a rail right-of-way under consideration must meet the following qualifications:
(1) The availability of existing rail infrastructure and plans for inter-suburban commuter rail.
(2) Rail projects that have in the past received Federal authorization and appropriation.
(3) The potential number of individuals that will be given an alternative to driving.
(4) The potential for reducing congestion.
(5) The potential of linking important economic centers such as places of employment, retail centers, educational centers, and civic centers.
(6) The potential for attracting new businesses and economic development.
(7) Providing new inter-suburban commuter rail service access.
(8) The availability of existing rail lines in a traditional hub-and-spoke layout radiating from a central urban area to connect with the corridor for inter-suburban commuter rail.
After designation, the Secretary would provide technical assistance to expedite the completion of a project providing inter-suburban commuter rail. The Secretary would also prohibit increased usage of the corridor except for the purpose of increasing the availability of inter-suburban commuter rail.