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Guest on The Infra Blog: Joseph E. Shacter, Director of Public and Intermodal Transportation, Illinois DOT

Posted by Steve Anderson on Thursday, October 17th, 2013

shacterJoe Shacter began work as IDOT’s Director of Public and Intermodal Transportation in April 2010.  His department oversees the state’s high speed rail program, current and future Amtrak service in Illinois that is supported by the state, the CREATE freight rail infrastructure program, and mass transit operating and capital funding statewide.  Previously, Joe served as an environmental consultant to the Illinois EPA, leading the implementation of the state’s new electronic waste recycling law that he co-wrote during his four-year career at the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago.  Also at ELPC, Joe worked on clean transportation issues such as vehicle emissions policies and high-speed rail.  Before joining ELPC, Joe spent 12 years in the museum industry, serving as president of Chicago’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum for four years and the prior eight as director of exhibit projects at the Museum of Science and Industry.  At MSI, Joe served as project manager of such varied transportation projects as the underground garage, Pioneer Zephyr restoration, and Take Flight exhibit.  Before working at MSI, Joe worked for four years as a financial and operations analyst at United Airlines.  Joe has master’s degrees in Journalism and Business Administration (with a concentration in transportation) from Northwestern University.

The Latest IDOT Study: Feasibility of 220-MPH High-Speed Rail
“Even as we are doing a lot of very exciting projects in the state, such as bringing higher-speed rail to the Chicago-St. Louis corridor now, as well as building new service to the quad cities and to Rockford and Dubuque, the governor wanted us to look at the feasibility of doing the so-called “true” high-speed rail—220-mile-per-hour service—to Champaign with branches on to St. Louis and/or Indianapolis.”

Higher Speed at Higher Cost
“We believe…that by investing incrementally now on projects that we can afford and that provide immediate benefit, like the higher-speed project in St. Louis, that that will invigorate the public’s interest greatly in taking that next step down the road to explore the implementation of true high-speed rail.”

Normal, IL: Proof of the Benefits of Better Rail
“As soon as the 110-mile-per-hour program was announced, Mayor Chris Koos and the city launched a private investment drive for downtown Normal that has absolutely changed the face of that downtown. Since this program was announced, more than $200 million has been invested by the private sector in reinvigorating downtown Normal.”

Why Not High-Speed Rail Now?
“I think if you were to ask the average person on the street now if they would vote to spend $23 billion, which is the minimum cost that’s in the study that the University of Illinois did for us, to start doing Chicago to St. Louis at true high speed, that they would say, ‘Wait a minute. We’ve got a recession we’re still getting out of, and you want to spend how much?'”

Washington is Stalling HSR
“While the administration has tried to position infrastructure as being very important and has tried to put significant dollars behind it, all efforts, frankly, for a lot of very laudable programs in Washington have been somewhat on hold because of the inability of a budget to really get passed. And our transportation and infrastructure needs are caught up in that same rancor that other issues are right now.”

Download full transcript (PDF): Joseph E. Shacter on The Infra Blog

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