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  #61  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2009, 5:36 AM
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The only way Quebec and Chicago makes sense is when VIA and Amtrak get serious about the connection (or lack there of) at Detroit and Windsor. As it stands, there is no seamless connection between the two. There isn't even a seamless bus connection between Amtrak and VIA stations in Detroit and Windsor, let alone an actual rail connection. This has always bugged me.
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  #62  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2009, 6:06 AM
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What about an open border? High-speed international rail works in Europe because border crossings are open. Are there customs agents on the train?
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  #63  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2009, 1:31 PM
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Whereas the European Union has been reducing border controls within the Union, security along the Canada-U.S. border has been substantially increased to the point that it is now affecting North American business competitiveness. A Windsor-Detroit rail link would be a natural given that this is busiest border crossing point between Canada and the U.S. and with high speed rail again being studied on the Canadian side. I just can see the border security issue killing the whole idea with the liklihood of lengthy custom delays destroying any benefits from such a project. Somehow there needs to be a much better way of maintaining security while allowing for the freer movement of goods and people across the border. As it stands and this is not being widely publicized, increased border security has caused dramatic decreases in cross-border tourism over the last number of years. There is a lot of face saving going on with only part of the facts being presented regarding the actual impact of increased border security.

Unfortunately, the 'longest undefended border in the world' is no longer a valid statement.

I haven't travelled in Europe lately, but even a number of years ago, custom agents would be on moving trains and this was between Switzerland and Italy with Switzerland not being an European Union country and you would go through an airport style customs checks upon arrival when travelling on the Eurostar train between London and Brussels. I wouldn't doubt that there is no custom checking now on trains travelling between many EU countries, with the only customs checking done upon first arrival in the EU.
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  #64  
Old Posted Aug 11, 2009, 8:41 PM
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Are 110-m.p.h. trains on the right track?
Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune

A Milwaukee Road rail line coal-burning locomotive was clocked going 124 m.p.h. on a stretch between the Twin Cities and Chicago -- in 1939...

Such long-distance trains routinely barreling across the Midwest at speeds exceeding the century mark may have been far ahead of their time 70 years ago. On the other hand, today's back-to-the-future plans by the federal government to encourage development of 110-m.p.h. train service in parts of the U.S. may simply lack the spirit and forward-looking approach that was alive back then, or even as recently as the 1960s, when 200-m.p.h.-plus "bullet train" systems were built in Asia and Europe.

At the behest of a rail advocacy group, Illinois is seeking federal funding to study the concept of expanding service at up to 220 m.p.h. in phases over several decades, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. IDOT officials said ramping up train speeds to 220 m.p.h. is an attractive idea, but too costly in today's economy.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/busine...2464080.column
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  #65  
Old Posted Aug 11, 2009, 10:30 PM
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^One thing to take from the above story is that IDOT can and should never be expected to be on board with massive rail investment. IDOT is a culture built on automobile mobility and traffic engineering to aid automotive mobility. IDOT should just be bypassed if at all possible in the high speed rail process. i don't know how realistic this is, but I do know that IDOT is notoriously bureaucratic and slow to change and we can expect nothing less than them mucking up the high speed rail funding process and dragging their feet in any way possible. This makes it even more important that the Midwest corridor, first starting in Illinois state, become a federal priority and hopefully spearheaded by LaHood and USDOT.
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Old Posted Aug 13, 2009, 11:35 PM
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http://dc.streetsblog.org/2009/08/13...ouses-4b-bill/

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Midwest High-Speed Rail Group Starts Lobby Push for House’s $4B Bill

by Elana Schor on August 13, 2009



Map of the proposed midwest high-speed rail system. (Photo: TrainWeb.org)

Congress agrees that the White House's ambitious high-speed rail plan should be funded next year -- but the House is pushing for $2.8 billion more than the Senate, setting up a high-stakes battle that rail advocates want the House to win.

Enter the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association (MHSRA), a non-profit group pushing for a high-speed rail network that would use Chicago as a hub and ultimately extend through eight states.

The MHSRA already has savvy allies on the Hill and a coordinated network of governors, but it recently added a website that helps voters track how their House members voted on next year's high-speed rail budget. That sort of on-the-ground lobbying could prove crucial as Appropriations Committee members from both chambers of Congress convene next month to hash out a final deal.


Yet the midwest is not the only region where lawmakers are working overtime to give their home districts a leg up in high-speed rail funding. House Democrats from upstate New York earmarked $4.6 million for local rail improvements in the same bill that gives $4 billion to a high-speed system, while six New England governors have formed an alliance along the lines of the MHSRA.
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  #67  
Old Posted Aug 13, 2009, 11:37 PM
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http://www.biztimes.com/blogs/milwau...aukees-economy

High-speed rail will boost Milwaukee's economy

Posted on August 13, 2009 6:10 AM

By Robert Bauman

Robert Bauman is a Milwaukee alderman...


Milwaukeeans and the few million other residents of the region should let out a collective three cheers for Gov. Jim Doyle for his leadership and vision on high-speed rail in Wisconsin.

The governor deserves credit because decreasing travel times and increasing train frequencies on the current Chicago-Milwaukee Amtrak service and inaugurating 110 mph inter-city service between Milwaukee and Madison will have a dramatic, positive economic impact on Milwaukee and the region.

In essence, these improvements will shorten the distance between Milwaukee, Madison and the vast Chicago metropolitan area, and all three regions will become more economically integrated allowing each region to piggyback on the advantages and strengths of the others. These regions will form a mega-region offering a tremendous mix of commercial, educational, cultural and entertainment activities.

For example, it will become significantly more convenient to live in Milwaukee and work or conduct business in Chicago or Madison. In particular, it will become easier and more affordable to live in Milwaukee and commute to downtown Chicago than it is to live in many Chicago suburbs and commute to downtown Chicago. The effect on residential real estate will be positive, and the housing market in downtown Milwaukee and nearby neighborhoods will experience a surge of demand.

A high-speed rail link will also make it easier and quicker to travel from Chicago to the Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin than to travel from Chicago to the University of Illinois campus at Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. The great educational institutions of Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago will all be closer together.

Likewise, Milwaukee's cultural and entertainment venues stand to benefit from closing the distance between Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago. It will become easier and quicker to travel from Chicago and Madison to downtown Milwaukee to enjoy dinner and a show or to visit our great museums and cultural attractions. It will also become easier and quicker to watch the Packers play the Bears at Soldier Field than at Lambeau Field. The seats of Soldier Field will be filled with many more green and gold clad fans, and we may have to rename the stadium “Lambeau South.”

Last but not least, Mitchell International Airport (which is served by the Chicago-Milwaukee Amtrak route) will also stand to benefit from closing the distance between Milwaukee, Chicago and Madison. Mitchell International will be 50 minutes from downtown Chicago - less travel time than an auto trip from downtown Chicago to O'Hare International Airport at rush hour.

It is frequently said that "time is money," and Gov. Doyle's high-speed rail initiative will offer travel time savings to hundreds of thousands of citizens who currently travel between Milwaukee, Chicago and Madison, and it will open the door for new commercial activity, job creation, population growth, and economic development in Milwaukee.

Very simply, this important infrastructure investment offers the potential to achieve a paradigm shift in Milwaukee's economy by placing Milwaukee in the center of the Milwaukee-Chicago-Madison region, and I believe that shift will create a buzz of development and growth like we've never seen before.

Thank you, Governor!


Alderman Robert Bauman, a longtime transit proponent, represents Milwaukee's 4th Aldermanic District and is chair of the Common Council's Public Works Committee.
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  #68  
Old Posted Aug 14, 2009, 2:07 AM
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It will also become easier and quicker to watch the Packers play the Bears at Soldier Field than at Lambeau Field. The seats of Soldier Field will be filled with many more green and gold clad fans, and we may have to rename the stadium “Lambeau South.”
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  #69  
Old Posted Aug 18, 2009, 12:35 PM
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Most informed Reporter award goes to.....

Maggie Borman of the Alton Telegraph

this article is by the far the most comprehensive review of the MWHSR. Finally a reporter that does more then regurgitate corporate news releases....

And it is the first of three parts so stay tuned.......


http://www.thetelegraph.com/news/rai...peed-high.html


High-speed rail now on faster track
Comments 20 | Recommend 3
August 08, 2009 10:34 PM
By MAGGIE BORMAN
The Telegraph
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of three parts on progress in getting high-speed railroad service in Illinois.

With one swoop of his pen this past month, Gov. Pat Quinn may have helped put steam into long-sidetracked high-speed rail plans.

"With the governor's signature on the capital bill, Illinois becomes a national leader in high-speed rail," Midwest High Speed Rail Association Executive Director Rick Harnish said. "The $850 million for rail infrastructure in the legislation is the largest state capital investment in railroads in the nation outside of California."

To be sure, the process of getting trains that can move 110 mph between Chicago and St. Louis is still years away, but given the years that have already been spent on the proposal the new infusion of cash is the biggest advance in some time.

"By making its own investment in high-speed rail, Illinois is solidifying its chances of receiving a larger portion of the $8 billion high-speed rail federal funds under the stimulus," Harnish said.

The legislation signed by the governor provides $400 million for high-speed rail and $150 million for Amtrak-related improvements. It also provides $300 million for a project dubbed CREATE, which will address many of the bottlenecks in and around Chicago that have plagued freight and passenger trains nationwide, Harnish said. CREATE stands for Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency program.

The capital bill funds will be used for immediate construction work on already planned projects such as the 110-mph St. Louis-to-Chicago rail line, and Amtrak extensions to Rockford-Galena, the Quad Cities and other initiatives, he said.

Harnish praised the governor and the General Assembly, especially Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, and Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Des Plaines.

"Without Gov. Quinn's vision and leadership, this crucial funding would not be a part of the capital program," Harnish said.

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association is a membership-based, nonprofit organization advocating the development of fast, frequent and dependable passenger trains linking the entire Midwest. The association claims a strong network of fast trains will make the Midwest a more attractive place to live and do business while slowing the growth of auto congestion and its related energy and pollution impacts.

But will these trains get faster?

In June, the Midwest High Speed Rail Association released a report that studied 220-mph service between Chicago and St. Louis. Among the conclusions in the report was that existing plans for 110 mph, four-hour service between the metro regions are out of date and under-scaled to meet travel needs in the Midwest.

The study, completed by consultant TranSystems, was commissioned by the association to determine costs and other elements of potentially very fast services across the state of Illinois. The main challenge of the report was to compare the existing Amtrak corridor that runs almost directly from Chicago to St. Louis, via Springfield, with another corridor, partially unused, that runs via Champaign and Decatur before continuing on. The latter route was found to be acceptable for a 220-mph-operating speed, largely because it is quite straight throughout. The Amtrak route that passes through places like Carlinville and Alton in The Telegraph area is constrained by numerous curves that would slow trains down considerably.

The study stated that trains could run express between the major cities with stops in Champaign and Springfield, 1 hour 52 minutes; with more stops in Kankakee, Decatur, and the Metro East, trains could complete the journey in 2 hours and 4 minutes. The study advocates hourly trips. These journey times compare favorably with the operations, the study said, with operations on the similar Paris-Lyon TGV corridor in France.

According to the report, the line could be rebuilt with electric catenary for $11.5 billion in 2012 dollars, an estimate that does not include rolling stock or maintenance facilities. The study said the state could prevent a sudden loss of treasury by building the line in seven phases.

The association's report, not endorsed by any government officials, was made to stimulate further discussion about the level of investment necessary for the line between Chicago and St. Louis. Though the report is not particularly detailed, the association said it is the first step toward transforming ideas for this Illinois route "from mediocrity to world-class status."

The association noted that the cost of implementation for the project would be relatively minimal considering how effectively it would likely contest air and road travel along the corridor. This route is served by at least 41 daily round trips on a number of airlines, making it one of the U.S.'s major air links and one that would be prime territory for rail market share takeover considering the less than two-hour trip made possible by high-speed trains.

The 220-mph route could also serve as the central corridor of a line eventually stretching west to Kansas City and south to Dallas; the connection at Chicago would similarly provide new routes to Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

Less than a year ago, even 110-mph trains seemed like a distant goal, Harnish said.

"Now due to the leadership of President Barack Obama, (U.S.) Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Gov. Pat Quinn and others, 110-mph Amtrak trains will link Bloomington-Normal, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin; St. Louis, Missouri; Springfield, Illinois and other communities to Chicago in just a few short years," Harnish said in a statement.

While the association is excited the 110-mph projects are moving forward, the longer lead time involved with 220-mph lines makes it urgent that the state begins the planning now, he said.

Obama made funding for high-speed rail a priority in negotiations over the economic stimulus package. In addition to the $8 billion secured in the economic stimulus, the White House also asked for another $5 billion over the next five years. Bipartisan leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have agreed to push for $50 billion for high-speed trains over the next six years, Harnish said.

The association has asked the state to seek $10 million in federal stimulus funds to conduct a detailed alternative analysis and environmental study for the Chicago-St. Louis route for a 220-mph high-speed rail line.

"This is the transportation technology of the future," Harnish said at a press conference in Springfield June 30 announcing the study of the 220-mph line.

Harnish said the high-speed rail line could be built by 2016 and would create jobs, reduce greenhouse emissions and bring Illinois cities closer together and allow for more economic opportunity. He estimated the project would create 60,000 construction jobs and 170,000 permanent jobs.

The association said the Chicago to Champaign route includes Canadian National Railway lines that have 100-foot-wide right of way that at one time had a second set of tracks, part of which could be purchased for high-speed rail; the Norfork Southern right of way would have to be purchased between Champaign and Springfield, while existing rail lines without passenger service could be used between Springfield and St. Louis.

Upgrading existing Amtrak line between Chicago and St. Louis to handle 110-mph trains would cost an estimated $2 billion and could be funded through the stimulus bill. (That line runs through Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, Carlinville and Alton.)

Senator Durbin, who along with Gov. Quinn and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, met with seven Midwestern governors in June to increase regional coordination on high-speed rail, said he continues to hear from people across Illinois who are looking for an affordable, reliable alternative "to sitting in traffic and waiting out airport delays."

Durbin noted in a press release that with $8 billion set aside for high-speed rail, Illinois has an extraordinary opportunity to make rail travel competitive...........

More in link to story
http://www.thetelegraph.com/news/rai...peed-high.html
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  #70  
Old Posted Aug 18, 2009, 3:42 PM
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This is a good article. Thanks for posting.
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  #71  
Old Posted Aug 18, 2009, 4:32 PM
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Part of me is very excited to read about the possibility of true HSR in the US.

Then again, WTF is $8 billion? Our defense budget each year is $650 billion. We could turn this country's auto-centricity upside down with just 25% of the war budget in this country. We could decrease oil dependence, increase productivity, and much much more...
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  #72  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2009, 6:34 AM
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^ Yeah, which is why I can't wait till the drawdown in Iraq is complete. That way, we can FINALLY get more and more of what we want!

But there is one more potential obstacle: Annoying conservative budget asshats.
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  #73  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2009, 7:44 AM
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Anybody know if Rochester, MN has a shot at being on the route from Chi to Twin cities? As it stands now Amtrak runs thru Winona, MN. Anybody?
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  #74  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2009, 12:34 PM
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^ Minnesota has a few decisions to make on their rail routes. It is early in the game for them as they have to wait for ILL and WI to progress on the CHI-MILW-MAD hsr. And then they are subject to some WI decisions. There are 3 potential routes into Minny. The northern route is being advocated by Eau Claire,WI., of course they want service and will bargain for that route versus the southern route which is the current Amtrak Empire Builder route through LaCrosse. Once the train crosses the Miss river at LaCrosse, MN can decide to continue the route west to Rochester which is divergent from the current Amtrak EB route which bends north on the Minnesota side of LaCrosse and heads for Winona and Red Wing. Some MDOT studies include Rochester in a commuter rail route. And Rochester boosters argue that the town should be on the MWHSR network. But as in all of theses route conflicts, dont look for any help from Amtrak. They will not be changing their established long distance routes in the near future. And only then it will be long after the new infrasructure is complete.

Here are a bunch of MN studies and plans.
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/planning/...n/studies.html
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  #75  
Old Posted Aug 22, 2009, 5:15 AM
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"JP illinois": That's kind of what I thought! Thank You..
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  #76  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 4:18 AM
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Like many other rail advocates, I queston how serious she is about rail when she's cutting subsidies for existing lines, which, BTW, have become increasingly popular since 2003:

Quote:

Granholm: State applying for funds to build high-speed rail

Valerie Olander / The Detroit News

August 24, 2009

Dearborn -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced today the state is applying for up to $800 million in federal stimulus money for part of a high-speed rail line between Detroit and Chicago.

Michigan, eight other Midwest states and Chicago are seeking $3.2 billion dollars in federal money to create a Midwest Regional Rail Initiative.

Michigan's $800 million would be used for track improvements and train station renovations, creating as many as 10,000 jobs long-term, Granholm said.

Granholm made the announcement today with local and federal lawmakers in Dearborn, a stop on the proposed Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago line.

"Michigan could have the opportunity to build rail cars (and engines)," she said. Most rail cars are built in Spain, Japan and Ontario.

An application will be filed Oct. 2 to compete with other Midwest states for the manufacturing jobs, she said.

The funding isn't guaranteed. Michigan's application for $800 million is among $102 billion in federal recovery funds requested for projects across the country, including projects on the East and West coasts, she said.

The state is expected to receive confirmation for the funding in September or October, Kurt Stuedle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation said.

"We are committed to bringing high-speed rail service to Michigan because of the benefit it will have for citizens," Granholm said. "High-speed rail will enhance our transportation system, create jobs and spur economic development and help protect our environment."

"We want to shorten the time it takes to travel from Detroit to Chicago to four hours and increase the frequency of that trip to nine times a day."

The Democratic governor has proposed trimming spending by 22 percent for Amtrak service in the state. Funding would drop by half starting in October under a GOP plan.

She said in a radio address Friday that high-speed rail would give state residents another option for business and recreational trips.

volander@detnews.com (734) 462-2203 The Associated Press contributed.
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  #77  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 4:25 PM
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Thanks for posting that article.

I agree that ideally, a continuous corridor from Chicago - Quebec could be viable. But despite NAFTA and platitudes about the benefits of free trade, we don't have free trade with Canada, given how hard it is to move back and forth for work (my college-educated Canadian roommate with several years of work experience and substantial savings can't get a permanent resident visa in the US for the life of him without shelling out thousands for legal counsel, and will ultimately just move back) and, as already mentioned, the absurd waits at busy border crossings for any sorts of travel, be it business or leisure. Maybe some day the US and Canada could actually integrate their economies in a fashion similar to the EU, rather than paying lip service to the idea as is current practice.
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  #78  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 5:41 PM
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It's amazing how much of a powerhouse Chicago could become if all tracks lead to the Loop.
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  #79  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 9:23 PM
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Eh. Maybe. I remain unconvinced that rail travel through Chicago offers an experience more pleasant than air travel, which is, after all, the target market. Union Station is cramped, dirty, and rather unpleasant. The city remains committed to an impressive but ultimately unrealistic plan to build a 5-level transportation tunnel that will fix all the issues... right.

This is not to mention, by the way, the disgusting amount to which advertising has created a visual cacophony in the already-confusing underground spaces of Union Station. Currently, every column, ceiling, and available wall is plastered with ads for Leinenkugel.

Airport builders understand the need for spacious and grand facilities that provide plenty of room for large numbers of people to walk from gates to exits and vice versa, and large amounts of seating to accommodate waiting passengers. From what I've seen of the Amtrak system, very few stations meet this mark. St. Louis' new station is one that does. Chicago's, New Orleans', and Atlanta's do not.
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Old Posted Aug 26, 2009, 12:24 AM
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It's amazing how much of a powerhouse Chicago could become if all tracks lead to the Loop.

Well that really is the unspoken plan BTW. Win the Olympics, secure Billions in the Midwest node...

Obama will not forget his state of grooming... Texas won under W... Chicago should win under Obama. He really needs to win enough seats [ in both houses to keep their majority] or at least not get white washed, in 2012 to secure this region as a true powerhouse....




All midwest roads funnel into Chicago...
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