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  #1  
Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 6:51 AM
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Midwest Regional Rail Initiative

This thread is intended for discussion of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, otherwise known as the "Chicago Hub" network.

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association
- this non-profit organization has been advocating for high-speed rail in the Midwest for years, but only now are government officials taking notice. The MHSRA's proposed network is not identical with what Midwestern states are planning; but at some point in the future, many if not all of these rail linkages may be built in various forms and alignments.



The core of the plan is a network of rail lines, with top speed of 110mph, radiating out from downtown Chicago. Critics contend that 110mph is not fast enough to form an attractive service for travelers, so the MHSRA has launched a detailed study of a 220mph line connecting Chicago to St Louis. Illinois' government supports this idea and has begun various long-term planning efforts, including the formation of an Illinois High-Speed Rail Commission.

Official plans have been announced for 110mph lines connecting:
Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison
Chicago-Springfield-St Louis
Chicago-Detroit-Pontiac

In more preliminary planning stages are 110mph lines connecting:
Madison-Minneapolis/St Paul
St Louis-Kansas City
Milwaukee-Green Bay
Minneapolis/St Paul-Duluth
Chicago-Indianapolis-Cincinnati
Chicago-Ft. Wayne-Toledo-Cleveland

In addition, several lines have been planned for normal Amtrak operation (79mph), but plans may be changed with an upgrade to 110mph. These are:
Chicago-Rockford-Dubuque
Chicago-Quad Cities-Iowa City
Cincinnati-Dayton-Columbus-Cleveland

No definite information has been released on any of the lines serving Indiana, save for the Chicago-Detroit route, which passes through a corner of the state. Indiana has yet to decide how its cities will be connected to the network, but the state wants to establish routes to connect Chicago to Toledo, Columbus, and Louisville. Which Indiana cities those routes will serve is still up in the air.

So far, plans call for the Midwest network to use existing Amtrak cars and locomotives initially, with a gradual transition to Talgo rolling stock that can tilt, allowing for higher speeds through curves.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 7:06 AM
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It's unclear exactly what Wisconsin is buying. It says "train sets" but does that include the locomotives, or "head units", as Talgo calls them, or just the passenger cars?

Talgo America's website announces that the Wisconsin cars will be called "Type XXI Lakeliner" trains. Since there is no description under this name, it's unclear whether this represents a whole new type of cars for them, or merely a rebranding of an existing type.

----------------------

High-speed train purchase first step in Madison-to-Milwaukee line
By MARK PITSCH
SAT., JUL 18, 2009 - 11:48 AM

In a first step toward building a Midwestern high-speed rail line connecting Madison with Chicago and the Twin Cities, Wisconsin is buying two passenger trains from a Spanish company that will hire state workers to assemble and maintain them.

The $47.5 million purchase is expected to create 80 jobs initially, and company officials said Friday they are considering assembling the trains at Janesville’s General Motors production plant, which closed in April idling 1,200 workers. Sites in Milwaukee are also under consideration.

The Madison station would be at the Dane County Regional Airport.

Under the state’s high-speed rail plan, the Madison-to-Milwaukee line would reach 110 mph as soon at it begins service. The Milwaukee to Chicago line would initially operate at a top speed of 79 mph because its track needs to be upgraded. It would reach 110 mph once the Madison to the Twin Cities and Green Bay to Milwaukee links are in service, Klein said.

That’s because officials want to establish service in the rest of the state first and upgrading the track is expensive, he said.

Patentes Talgo officials said Friday they envision their Wisconsin plant as an assembly hub for the Midwest.
Antonio Perez, chief executive officer of the company’s U.S. subsidiary, said the company will build the empty shells of the trains in Spain and ship them to Wisconsin. All interior design and assembly work will be completed here, he said.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 9:11 AM
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^^^I am ignorant of the details by why can we (the US) retool some of our manufacturing to make the trains here..

Doesn't GE have a HSR rail unit?
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 2:39 PM
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I applaud Rick Harnish et al for dreaming big and sharing responsibility for the relatively advanced state of midwest interstate rail, but at some point the plan would have to get a bit more plausible. The notion that there is demand to support both a 90-110mph corridor and a parallel 150-220mph route between LaCrosse and MSP, for example, is ludicrous. No - there will be one route between Madison and MSP, not 3.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 3:22 PM
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^^^I am ignorant of the details by why can we (the US) retool some of our manufacturing to make the trains here..

Doesn't GE have a HSR rail unit?
I predict GE will eventually get into to rail propulsion equipment, but they will wait so long to do it that they will have blown any chance of dominating the domestic share of he market. Just a prediction. If EMD was smart they'd open an entire new division to get a head start on the high speed rail future.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 3:58 PM
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Originally Posted by VivaLFuego View Post
I applaud Rick Harnish et al for dreaming big and sharing responsibility for the relatively advanced state of midwest interstate rail, but at some point the plan would have to get a bit more plausible. The notion that there is demand to support both a 90-110mph corridor and a parallel 150-220mph route between LaCrosse and MSP, for example, is ludicrous. No - there will be one route between Madison and MSP, not 3.
As it looks now, there will be at least two routes, and with interstate bureaucracy I wouldn't be surprised at 3. The current, existing route between La Cross and MSP meanders along the river; and I don't expect it to upgraded to 110 unless it's an intermediary step while a 220 ROW is built. Both Eau Claire and Rochester (and Wisconsin and Minnesota, respectively) are lobbying to be the last node before MSP. If fed funding and state support picks up in the next 10-20 years, the "compromise" could be new ROWs to each city with departures between Madison and MSP split between them. It wouldn't be the most efficient use of funds, but that's politics.

As and aside, I do hope that Rochester ends up with a 220 HSR stop. Besides having the Mayo Clinic, which one could argue is a societal asset worthy of subsidized transportation, the city has a really sizable tech industry. Aggregately, I would think Rochester would see as much rail use as a typical Midwestern city several times its size.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 6:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
It's unclear exactly what Wisconsin is buying. It says "train sets" but does that include the locomotives, or "head units", as Talgo calls them, or just the passenger cars?
Talgo America's website announces that the Wisconsin cars will be called "Type XXI Lakeliner" trains. Since there is no description under this name, it's unclear whether this represents a whole new type of cars for them, or merely a rebranding of an existing type.
Just the passenger cars! They will probably be based on Talgo series VIII, which are already FRA compliant at speeds up to 125 to 150 mph with two disc brakes per axle, and to 220 mph with three disc brakes per axle.
http://www.talgoamerica.com/series8-passengerCars.aspx

Talgo's branded diesel locomotive is FRA compliant and capable of speeds up to 125 mph. But Amtrak's P-42 Genesis diesel locomotives are already capable of 110 mph maximum speeds. So there's no need to buy more diesel locomotives, as the existing P-42s powering the existing Hiawatha trains will suffice.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GE_Genesis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiawatha_Service
Hiawatha is the name of an 86 mile train route operated by Amtrak on the western shore of Lake Michigan, although the name was historically applied to several different routes that extended across the Midwest and out to the Pacific Ocean. As of 2007, fourteen trains (seven round-trips, six on Sunday) run daily between Chicago, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, making intermediate stops in Glenview, Illinois, Sturtevant, Wisconsin, and General Mitchell International Airport. The line is partially supported by funds from the state governments of Wisconsin and Illinois. The service carries about 624,000 passengers annually. It is one of the most heavily-used routes in the entire Amtrak system, aside from rail lines on the United States North East and in California. A one-way trip between Milwaukee and Chicago takes about 90 minutes (Amtrak's schedule actually reads 89 minutes).

Therefore, today the Hiawatha averages 57.3 mph between Chicago and Milwaukee. They may save some time, a few minutes at most, with the new Talgo tilting cars in track curves. The real savings will come when they can increase maximum speeds to 110 mph as track and signal work is completed to support that higher speed.

By the way, $47 million for two 14 car trainsets comes at just less than $1.7 million per car.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 6:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VivaLFuego View Post
I applaud Rick Harnish et al for dreaming big and sharing responsibility for the relatively advanced state of midwest interstate rail, but at some point the plan would have to get a bit more plausible. The notion that there is demand to support both a 90-110mph corridor and a parallel 150-220mph route between LaCrosse and MSP, for example, is ludicrous. No - there will be one route between Madison and MSP, not 3.
I always thought that the river route to LaCrosse was not meant as a high-speed rail line, but more as an extension of Minnesota's Red Rock Corridor concept - i.e. a commuter train (albeit a long one), operating with modest track improvements.

mcfinley is right, though - the map doesn't represent reality, it represents an attempt to smooth ruffled feathers between Rochester and Eau Claire, in order to build as much support as possible. Also - 110mph to Quincy?

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Just the passenger cars! They will probably be based on Talgo series VIII, which are already FRA compliant at speeds up to 125 to 150 mph with two disc brakes per axle, and to 220 mph with three disc brakes per axle.
http://www.talgoamerica.com/series8-passengerCars.aspx

Talgo's branded diesel locomotive is FRA compliant and capable of speeds up to 125 mph. But Amtrak's P-42 Genesis diesel locomotives are already capable of 110 mph maximum speeds. So there's no need to buy more diesel locomotives, as the existing P-42s powering the existing Hiawatha trains will suffice.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GE_Genesis
The state claims that their rationale is to purchase the cars themselves, in order to save money over leasing them from Amtrak. How does it save money to continue leasing the Genesis? Also, while this is a minor point, continuing to use the Genesis creates a weak symbol indeed for high-speed rail. Buy the Talgo locomotives and re-assign the Genesis to one of the handful of corridors in the US that would have service but for a lack of rolling stock.

Although the Acela doesn't quite measure up to European or Asian standards for "high-speed rail", a lot of its success came from its branding - of which the train design is an important part. Also, the Acela lounges created in the major cities for high-speed passengers created an image of exclusivity that attracted riders. I really hope the Midwest network can employ this strategy.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 7:08 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
I always thought that the river route to LaCrosse was not meant as a high-speed rail line, but more as an extension of Minnesota's Red Rock Corridor concept - i.e. a commuter train (albeit a long one), operating with modest track improvements.
That route really isn't meant for high speed rail, it's used by couples and families taking minivacations away from the city where the scenery is half the incentive to take the train (maybe I'm overgeneralizing a little). Yet, that's the only route Amtrak has into MSP, so it may very well receive misguided funding as a first step towards HSR while a half dozen impact studies are conducted to determine the best alternate ROW.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 7:16 PM
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For the Chicago-Milwaukee (Hiawatha) line, I have seen numbers as high as $1 billion to upgrade the line to 110 mph HSR. To me, that's ridiculous when considering the the improvement will be a whopping 23 minutes.

If the line were 220 mph, it would make more sense. What's the ridership in Glenview? I'd consider dropping the Glenview and Sturtevant stop if it isn't substantial.

Last edited by ChicagoChicago; Jul 21, 2009 at 7:30 PM.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 7:21 PM
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Also, while this is a minor point, continuing to use the Genesis creates a weak symbol indeed for high-speed rail. Buy the Talgo locomotives and re-assign the Genesis to one of the handful of corridors in the US that would have service but for a lack of rolling stock.
I would agree if other States bought Talgo equipment and wanted Talgo diesel locomotives. I don't think it is cost effective to own the only two (or four) Talgo diesel locomotives in the States.
You also must be able to meet EPA Tier 4 standards for all new diesel locomotives after 2011. I'm not sure a Tier 4 diesel could fit into the Talgo diesel locomotive shell? Only one European DMU vendor (Stadler Rail) has committed to meeting EPA Tier 4 standards. I think it is wiser to wait and order diesel locomotives later. Who knows, Wisconsin may decide to upgrade the corridor to electrification sooner rather than later?
As long as Wisconsin and Illinois plan on a top speed of 110 mph for the near future, the Genesis locomotives can achieve that.

I wonder if the Governor has looked at "Livery" colors yet, to distinguish these trains from other Amtrak trains? The Cascades trains have their own livery.



Height
P-42= 14'8"
F-40= 15'8"
F-59= 15'8"
Talgo Series= 13'2"

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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 7:28 PM
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For the Chicago-Milwaukee (Hiawatha) line, I have seen numbers as high as $1 billion to upgrade the line to 110 mph HSR. To me, that's ridiculous when considering the the improvement will be a whopping 23 minutes.

If the line were 220 mph, it would make more sense. What's the ridership in Glenview? I'd consider dropping the Glenview stop if it isn't substantial.
I have actually thought it would be better to move that stop a bit north to Lake-Cook Rd. and redevelop the area around Deerbrook Mall which has all the characteristics of a great potential suburban TOD hub. Perhaps having a north suburban stop is not needed at all given the short distance though.

Expanding on the issue of suburban stops along HSR though I would bet that suburban stops are going to be considered somewhat essential along some of these HSR's corridors. America's metros are so spread and detached from a central train hub (compared to Europe/Japan) that for many suburbanites in places it would likely be no easier getting to the downtown station then the airport. Having a stop in east suburban St. Louis, west 'burb Detroit, and north 'burb Cincinnati may have have to be seriously considered to attract ridership.

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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 7:42 PM
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I have actually thought it would be better to move that stop a bit north to Lake-Cook Rd. and redevelop the area around Deerbrook Mall which has all the characteristics of a great potential suburban TOD hub. Perhaps having a north suburban stop is not needed at all given the short distance though.

Expanding on the issue of suburban stops along HSR though I would bet that suburban stops are going to be considered somewhat essential along some of these HSR's corridors. America's metros are so spread and detached from a central train hub (compared to Europe/Japan) that for many suburbanites in places it would likely be no easier getting to the downtown station then the airport. Having a stop east suburban St. Louis, west 'burb Detroit, and north 'burb Cincinnati may have have to be seriously considered to attract ridership.
Agreed....as much as it turns my stomach to have to pander to the disperse living arrangement crowd it may be necessary to have some strategic stops to jump start ridership.....
\
In the case of the north suburbs it is probably necessary for at least one stop maybe even 2 to make HSR competitive with auto at least if you are going to Milw.


Unfortunately, the cost in time is borne by all of us because some people cannot handle any density above about 3000 / sq mile
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 7:44 PM
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America's metros are so spread and detached from a central train hub (compared to Europe/Japan) that for many suburbanites in places it would likely be no easier getting to the downtown station then the airport. Having a stop east suburban St. Louis, west 'burb Detroit, and north 'burb Cincinnati may have have to be seriously considered to attract ridership.
If that outer suburb had a link to some sort of local transit, I agree. If not, I disagree.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 9:11 PM
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Starting with 110 Mph is a good idea, simply because if all of them were gonna be 220, not even half would probably get built in the near future.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 9:43 PM
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http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...hWGMQD99IV6FG1

STIMULUS WATCH: Foreign firms eye Obama rail plan

By JOAN LOWY and MATT LEINGANG (AP) – 4 hours ago

WASHINGTON — Foreign companies that dominate the international high-speed rail industry are trying to cash in on the Obama administration's plan to pump billions of dollars into U.S. rail systems to help stimulate the economy.

The stimulus plan sets aside $8 billion for high-speed rail, a figure that has ambassadors and foreign leaders jockeying to get their preferred companies in on the deal. Though the law requires the U.S. to "buy American" with stimulus money, the rail plan requires so many trains and so much expertise that the administration has conceded foreign companies are likely to be part of it.

"I guarantee those companies that have been involved in high-speed rail in Asia and Europe are in America right now meeting those folks that are putting proposals together to tap into our $8 billion," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who has spoken with Japan's ambassador and transport minister about the matter.

LaHood, who spoke last week at a Washington think tank, met with French and Spanish officials during a recent trip to Europe, where he rode high-speed trains and met industry leaders.

High-speed rail was on the agenda when Jean-Louis Borloo, the French environment minister, met LaHood in Washington in March. And it will be a topic of discussion again during LaHood's upcoming trip to Japan, where companies want to supply the U.S. with rail cars, locomotives and expertise.

Europe and Japan have extensive high-speed rail systems and well-developed industries to support them. The only truly high-speed rail service in the United States is Amtrak's Acela Express, which operates between Washington and Boston. The trains can reach speeds of 150 mph, but average less than 100 mph. Some trains in Europe and Asia average 150 mph or more.

"They do have the expertise in putting systems together and we don't," said Rep. John Mica of Florida, the senior Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Mica said he expects most of the high-speed rail money to be spent in the U.S. on locomotive engines, steel tracks, concrete and support systems. But passenger cars will probably be purchased from foreign companies, although they may be produced by U.S. subsidiaries, he said. European and Japanese companies may also play a large role in designing and overseeing rail projects.

The Federal Rail Administration plans to release the first round of grants by mid-September. State and local officials will decide which companies win the contracts.

"If you look at the opportunities that these folks are trying to create for themselves, they're coming to America, they are going to the regions and they are talking to the people who have put together proposals," LaHood said. "And it will be up to those folks if they want to partner."

The "Buy American" provision of the stimulus gives priority to U.S. manufacturers and suppliers. But officials can waive that rule if buying American would delay the project or increase costs by more than 25 percent.

The administration's plan requires hundreds of new passenger trains. Foreign companies figure to be the initial front-runners because iconic U.S. train builders such as Pullman Co. in Chicago and Budd Co. in Philadelphia died out more than 30 years ago with America's shift to highway and air travel.

Among the most prominent of the foreign companies are Montreal-based Bombardier Inc., which helped build the Acela, and Spanish company Talgo SA. Talgo says its U.S. subsidiary will build a manufacturing plant in whichever state takes the lead in ordering rail equipment, company spokeswoman Nora Friend said.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle announced Friday that his state is buying two 14-car trains from Talgo for $47 million for its Milwaukee-Chicago corridor
. The deal includes an option to buy more if the state gets stimulus money to extend service from Milwaukee to Madison. As part of the deal, Talgo will open plants in Wisconsin.

Other foreign manufacturers already have U.S. plants that supply Amtrak and smaller commuter trains for New York and other cities. French engineering firm Alstom SA has a factory in Hornell, N.Y., and Talgo has a maintenance facility in Seattle, where 10 years ago it assembled trains for an Amtrak route that runs from Eugene, Ore., to Vancouver, British Columbia.

The stimulus may only be the beginning. Obama has said his $8 billion plan is just a down payment on a high-speed rail network, drawing comparisons to the 1950s creation of the interstate highway system.

To follow up, Congress is working on proposals that would expand high-speed rail, including one plan that would spend $50 billion over the next five years.

"Congress may do more," LaHood said. "If they do, we'll be cheering them on."

Last month, a group of U.S. investors launched a startup to compete with international firms. Value Recovery Group Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, bought up the remains of a shuttered Colorado railcar company and began scouting locations in Ohio, Illinois and Michigan for a manufacturing plant.

CEO Barry Fromm said the new company, U.S. Railcar, plans to build diesel trains that travel 79-90 mph and can be upgraded for 125 mph service.

"We want to keep American jobs and U.S. public investment at home," Fromm said.
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Old Posted Jul 21, 2009, 11:03 PM
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Expanding on the issue of suburban stops along HSR though I would bet that suburban stops are going to be considered somewhat essential along some of these HSR's corridors. America's metros are so spread and detached from a central train hub (compared to Europe/Japan) that for many suburbanites in places it would likely be no easier getting to the downtown station then the airport. Having a stop east suburban St. Louis, west 'burb Detroit, and north 'burb Cincinnati may have have to be seriously considered to attract ridership.
Agreed... even in the UK they have a suburban HSR stop, Ebbsfleet with a large car park. in France they also have suburban HSR stations.. of course there would be express trains that would go only from from a major downtown to a major downtown, but there should also be trains to service a suburban station with a large parking lot.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2009, 12:25 AM
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I have actually thought it would be better to move that stop a bit north to Lake-Cook Rd. and redevelop the area around Deerbrook Mall which has all the characteristics of a great potential suburban TOD hub. Perhaps having a north suburban stop is not needed at all given the short distance though.
Hell, why not shift the Hiawatha over to Metra's North Central line? It would rejoin the Milwaukee Road using UP's tracks from Des Plaines to Northbrook.

This way, it would serve O'Hare. The O'Hare Transfer station will soon be connected to the People Mover directly, and a huge new parking garage will be built. Why not use this garage for rail travelers as well? The highway systems already exist to bring suburbanites to O'Hare.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2009, 2:29 AM
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Truth is, with the current economic slump, Metropolis turning into a strip mall (grrrr... still fuming about that..), highrises cancelled left and right, bad news about Chicago 2016 (grrrr... still fuming about USOC..), the prospect of CREATE and some investment in midwestern intercity rail is the only good news that's even out there these days.
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Old Posted Jul 22, 2009, 3:25 AM
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