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US Transportation revealed a plan to provide $116m from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to Utah to complete 70 miles of light rail services in the Salt Lake region and $177m to Illinois to connect Chicago and the Quad Cities.

The funds allocated to Utah will be used to extend the TRAX light rail transit service from downtown Salt Lake City into the suburb of Draper.

The project involves three new stations with park-and-ride-facilities which will run parallel to the Interstate 15 corridor and make it easier for suburban residents to travel in Salt Lake City.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said when completed, Salt Lake’s transit system will connect dozens of communities along the fast-growing Wasatch Front, support new economic development and generate thousands of good jobs for the community.

"The last leg of this effort means that roughly 70,000 commuters travelling daily between Sandy and Draper will have seamless, convenient access to downtown jobs without sitting in I-15 traffic."

The total cost for the Draper extension project is $194m and is expected to be completed in December 2013.

Draper extension is final part of UTA’s Frontlines 2015 Program, a $2.9bn programme to build 70 miles of rail in seven years and build a major transit stop within reach of every resident in the UTA service area.

As part of the plan, four new light rail lines, one new commuter rail line and a new light rail maintenance facility will be built to double Utah Transport’s existing rail capacity.

The US Government will also provide $177m to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for a passenger rail project which will allow a twice daily round-trip service between Chicago and the Quad Cities.

It will allow infrastructure improvements, including a new station at Geneseo, a layover facility in the Quad Cities area, communication and signaling improvements and the purchase of new passenger rail equipment.

Ray LaHood said: "With America’s population set to grow by 100 million over the next 40 years, passenger rail will play a vital role in meeting America’s long-term transportation challenges."

"This project, and the others like it, will reduce congestion for the region, create jobs and make the Midwest a better place to start a business," LaHood said.

Caption: US Department of transport invests in transport project to improve infrasture, reduce congestion and create jobs. Image author: Aude.