KIRKWOOD, MO (KTVI) - The federal government approved the next step in work on a new high-speed rail line in Illinois and Missouri. Kirkwood commuters and business owners were ecstatic.
The public-address system politely booms.
"May I have your attention please? Now arriving at the Kirkwood Station..."
Royce LaMarr prepared to take his first train ride in 42 years. He joined several friends on a trip to see the holiday lights in Downtown K.C. On the other side of the Mississippi River, the State of Illinois just got the federal green light to design a high-speed line from Chicago to St. Louis. So, LaMarr looked forward to taking a shorter ride more often.
"Fun events going up to the city, for going up to the lake, for the Cards and Cubs games,'" he already had his itinerary planned.
Of course, high-speed service was still just a goal. Some passengers were plenty happy with conventional rail travel, for the time being. Cindy Shaffer listened to the train scream to a stop on the tracks outside. She was meeting her sister-in-law and 93-year-old mother in Kansas City. The ladies were going headed to see the Kansas City Christmas lights, too. Shaffer has been riding the rails since college.
"You get more room to move around," she explained. "You can walk around, better than on a plane."
"Air travel," LaMarr pointed out. "It will probably be about the same -- with that short of a distance -- with advanced time, your wait time, and your security issues."
The Kirkwood Station already fed local restaurants a lot of hungry customers. Owners believed high-speed rail will bring more.
"People who want to take something special on the train with them," said Great Harvest Bakery owner Judy Honigfort, "But also people arrive early for their travel time, so they stop in to lunch."
"They just did a study saying that they didn`t think the work was going to be a big impact," Great Harvest owner Tom Honigfort was speaking of the Federal Railroad Administration`s approval of the project`s environmental impact study. "I trust that. I think it`s going to be good for the environment."
The 110-mile an hour trains need new rails and construction crews need to eat.
"I`m looking really forward to feeding whoever it brings through," Honigfort laughed.
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