High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Leading to Significant Economic Development Along Corridors

From Moline, Illinois, to Brunswick, Maine, the revival of passenger rail is sparking significant economic development just when it is desperately needed. American manufacturing is stepping up to make sure rail infrastructure projects are built with American-made products, which, in turn, support an entire supply chain of American companies and their employees, maximizing the economic benefit of these infrastructure investments.

As examples,

  • Nortrak, headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is making castings for track work along the Chicago–St. Louis Corridor at its Decatur, Illinois, plant.
  • Nippon Sharyo, the largest manufacturer of high-speed rail trains in Japan, is building a new manufacturing plant in Rochelle, Illinois, in hopes of building high-speed trains for corridors throughout the country.
  • Steel Dynamics, Inc., in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is making continuously welded rail at its Columbia City, Indiana, plant, to be delivered to Recovery Act projects in Maine and Vermont. A company once operating at only 27 percent of capacity, Steel Dynamics officials are now indicating that the plant will expand and hire additional workers this spring to meet growing demand.

Just the potential for better passenger rail is spurring economic development across the country.

  • In Normal, Illinois, more than $200 million in private funds has been invested in anticipation of high-speed rail, including the construction of a new hotel and conference center. Uptown Normal is a neighborhood that surrounds the Bloomington-Normal stop on the Chicago–St. Louis corridor. Despite retail vacancies across the country, this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood is bustling with economic activity.
  • LL Bean, headquartered in Freeport, Maine, is also gearing up for more business when the expanded Downeaster rail line stops in their town. “LL Bean is very excited that the Downeaster is coming to Freeport. The train will serve the local residents as well as visitors. Freeport is a destination for shopping, outdoor activities, and as a gateway to all Maine has to offer. The train will truly enhance the visitor experience, as well as Freeport as a community,” said Carolyn Beem, manager of public affairs for the giant clothing company.