Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin last week announced a $685 million agreement that advances plans for a high-speed rail network between Chicago and St. Louis.

The pact involves track upgrades between Lincoln and Dwight and Alton and the Mississippi River, along with the installation of a modernized signal system. It marks the next phase of the project launched last year with a $1.2 billion federal grant.

“Today’s agreement marks another major step towards making high-speed rail a reality in Illinois,” Quinn said. “This important partnership with the Union Pacific Railroad and the Obama administration will boost our efforts to make Illinois the high-speed rail hub of the Midwest.”

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