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SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois Department of Transportation is seeking input on its 2017 Rail Plan, which provides an overview of the state's existing passenger and freight facilities and operations as well as strategies for achieving long-term goals. The public is asked to review the plan on IDOT's website at https://goo.gl/dF4dpC and submit comments at https://goo.gl/pp7rWD by Feb. 23.

"Our rail system plays an important role in the development of our local and national economies," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. "High-quality, high-performing railroads are not just a convenience in Illinois, but a necessity. It's vital that we continue to develop and improve this infrastructure to maintain and strengthen our status as the transportation hub of North America."

State rail plans are federally required to be updated every five years. IDOT's last plan was submitted in 2012. The 2017 Rail Plan examines current passenger and freight rail infrastructure and identifies potential improvements, new routes and connections between rail and other modes of transportation. Among the plan highlights: improvements on the Chicago-St. Louis passenger rail corridor, the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program, and station projects throughout the state.

Freight and passenger rail are key components of Illinois' transportation network. Illinois boasts the second-largest rail system in the United States and is the only state in which all seven Class I railroads operate. Nearly half of the more than 1 billion tons of freight valued at $2.97 trillion that moves in Illinois each year is transported by rail. Chicago, the largest rail hub in North America, serves 500 freight trains and 700 intercity and commuter trains daily. The public is encouraged to review the plan and provide comments at https://goo.gl/pp7rWD.

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