Travel & Tourism
Governor Quinn, Secretary LaHood and Senator Durbin Preview 110-MPH Rail Service in Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Erin Wilson   
Monday, 22 October 2012 13:20

110-mile per hour Rail Demonstration A Milestone For Midwest High-Speed Rail Network, Thousands of Jobs Created from Work

JOLIET – October 19, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo, Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider, Amtrak Chairman Tom Carper, and local leaders to celebrate the start of 110-mph rail service in Illinois. Today’s demonstration of 110-mph speeds between Dwight and Pontiac on the critical Chicago-St. Louis rail corridor represents a historic step towards the establishment of a high-speed rail network that will secure Illinois’ position as the Midwest’s transportation hub.

The project - part of a $2 billion federal and state investment in high-speed rail - has created and supported more than 6,000 construction jobs and many more related to production and equipment manufacturing.

The 15-mile demonstration segment showcased major infrastructure improvements, state-of-the-art signaling, and significant technological and safety advancements. Trains will start carrying Amtrak riders at the higher speed between Dwight and Pontiac before Thanksgiving of this year. The 110-mph service is projected to be in place along nearly 75% of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor by 2015, reducing travel time by more than an hour. Today’s demonstration is part of Governor Quinn’s vision to bring high-speed rail to Illinois and modernize the state’s transportation infrastructure.

“A 21st century rail system in Illinois will create jobs and drive economic development throughout the Midwest, while making travel across Illinois faster, safer and more reliable,” Governor Quinn said. “This demonstration of high-speed rail service would not be possible without the unwavering commitment of President Obama, Secretary LaHood, Senator Dick Durbin, and many others. High-speed rail is coming to Illinois and these long-term investments in our transportation system will benefit the citizens of our state for generations to come.”

“Investing in passenger rail means more options for the traveling public, new jobs and expanding economic opportunities for communities all along the Chicago to St. Louis corridor,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “With next generation rail equipment, new track structures, and renovated and new rail stations, passengers will be able to enjoy faster travel times aboard a greater number of trains. Today’s achievement is just one more example of how rail investments are transforming communities across America.”

Illinois has become a national leader in passenger rail expansion. Total ridership on Amtrak’s four Illinois routes has grown nearly 75% over the past six years, rising to more than 2.1 million passengers last year. Ridership on today’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service alone has doubled in that time period, despite relatively slow speeds and aging equipment. When completed, trains traveling from Chicago to St. Louis will reach top speeds matching those of trains now traveling between Chicago and Detroit, the fastest passenger trains in North America outside of the East Coast.

"Amtrak is a lynchpin in Illinois mass transportation and a vital component in the economic development of communities from Chicago to St. Louis, and with ridership up 6 percent this year, its popularity only continues to grow," U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said. "Recognizing high-speed rail's outstanding potential to create jobs and drive growth, as well as our state's leading role in transportation infrastructure, the federal government invested close to $2 billion out of a total $8 billion made available nationwide through the Recovery Act into Illinois projects. High-speed trains will help move residents quickly and comfortably across the state and ensure Illinois remains a top passenger rail provider. Today’s test is a major step toward that goal."

Today’s demonstration began at the soon-to-be renovated Joliet Union Station and ended at Normal’s brand new multi-modal train station, where transportation officials highlighted the modern upgrades, accommodations and benefits Amtrak travelers will experience first-hand in the near future. Before it was complete, the new Normal station and promise of 110-mph service had attracted more than $200 million in private investments to its downtown area, an example of how rail investment attracts economic growth.  Future rail investments along the Chicago to St. Louis corridor will spur economic activity across Illinois in Springfield, Dwight, Pontiac, Lincoln, Carlinville, Alton and Joliet where new or newly-renovated stations are under development or in the planning stages.

“This remarkable 110-mph segment demonstration serves as a testament to exceptional teamwork among all levels of government and the private sector, and exemplifies the dedication to enhancing viable, cost-effective and essential transportation improvements needed to compete effectively in the decades ahead,” Secretary Schneider said. “We are proud to unveil this high-speed rail segment test as a landmark step in rail history and share what travelers may experience in the very near future.”

Today’s high-speed rail demonstration follows the recent announcement of a $352 million multi-state procurement to design, build and deliver 130 bi-level passenger railcars for use in California and the Midwest, including the Chicago to St. Louis corridor. The Notice of Intent to Award identified Rochelle, Illinois-based vendor Nippon-Sharyo/Sumitomo Corporation of America as the expected builder of the railcars, the first of which are slated for delivery in fall 2015.

“We have worked in partnership with the state of Illinois to make 110-mph service a reality and Amtrak is continuing to bring high-speed rail service in an expanded Midwest network,” said Tom Carper, chairman, Amtrak Board of Directors. "When this project is complete, we anticipate the Chicago-St. Louis corridor will be one of the busiest in the country.”

“I want to congratulate Union Pacific’s field engineering team that has produced some very impressive numbers since this project started in 2010,” said Lance Fritz, Union Pacific Railroad’s executive vice president – operations. “The team has laid more than 2.5 million linear feet of rail, spread nearly 1.3 million tons of ballast to help provide a more stable roadbed and installed nearly 620,000 concrete ties. Thank you for a job well done.”

Existing Amtrak Amfleet cars have been refurbished to include new coach and business class seating, new café cars, healthier menu items and Wi-Fi service. Additional upgrades underway on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor route include installation of safer quadrant and pedestrian gates at urban crossings, gates at farm crossings, and new signals and road surfaces at crossings.

To follow progress, updates and completed improvements along the signature Chicago-St. Louis high-speed rail corridor, please visit www.idothsr.org.

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The Quad Cities Get Charged Up About Electric Vehicles US EPA Grant Helps Expand Local Charging Network PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Cathie Rochau   
Thursday, 18 October 2012 07:49

Moline, Illinois-The Quad City International Airport today unveiled two new Level II Electric Vehicle (EV) charging units in the short-term parking lot.  Each dual charging unit has the capacity to charge two vehicles in 4 – 6 hours.  The installation is part of a broader effort to expand the charging infrastructure to support anticipated growth in electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle use over the next five to 10 years.

The new EV charging units are the result of a partnership between the Quad City International Airport and Delta Institute, a Chicago-based non-profit environmental and economic development organization, initiated by the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce.  Genesis Health System is also participating in the project, and will install two of the same type of units at its new Medical Center being built on a brownfield site in Moline.  When completed, the installations will increase the number of away-from-home charging locations in the Quad Cities area to six, complementing existing facilities at the parking garage near the Rock Island City Parking Ramp, Lujack’s Nissan Dealership, Courtesy Car City and Tri-City Electric.

“We are pleased to be one of the first public facilities in the region to offer EV Charging service to those customers who have an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle,” said Bruce Carter, Director of Aviation for the Quad City International Airport.  “It is critical that we move forward with technology, and keep up with the most current needs of our travelers.”

Charging units are popping up at hotels, restaurants, retail sites and tourist attractions around the nation. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that there are approximately 4,600 public charging stations currently installed in the U.S and the number is expected to grow in the coming decade.  Kohl’s Department stores recently announced that by the end of fall, it will have a total of 101 charging stations at 52 locations across 14 states. Walgreen’s has been in the process of installing charging stations in 800 locations over the past year.

According to Carter, the units will also allow the airport to play a role as an alternative fuel hub on a national level. “This is part of a broader movement to establish airports as a reliable location for alternative vehicle fueling.”

The installation of Quad Cities’ latest charging units was made possible by a grant from the U.S. EPA. Delta Institute purchased four Dual EV Charging Units from Eaton Corporation, after being funded by the EPA to identify sustainable reuse opportunities for brownfields in weak market areas.  Since 2011, Delta has worked with the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce to identify potential partners and sites.  Both the Airport and Genesis Health System seized the opportunity to provide the service to their customers and employees.  The Airport and Genesis will install and maintain the units, and will provide the electricity without cost for a five year period.  After applying for the Illinois DCEO’s EV rebate program, they each could be reimbursed for half the cost of installation.

“Delta Institute works to drive economic and environmental improvements,” said Jean Pogge, CEO. “The availability of charging infrastructure not only helps grow demand for alternative fuel vehicles, it creates new market opportunity for manufacturers, dealers and suppliers working in that sector.”

Genesis Health System will be installing two units in the new Medical Building on 41st Street in Moline. The building is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2013.  A former brownfield site, the planned structure will include a number of “green” features, including an outdoor walking path and nature area.

“We are pleased to be a part of advancing the Quad Cities capacity to accommodate electric vehicles and welcome new opportunities to bring innovative green technologies to the region,” said Tara Barney, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce CEO.

=====================

 

About Delta Institute: Delta Institute is a Chicago-based center of innovation that creates market opportunities to build regional economies that are job rich and inclusive. In partnership with business, government and local communities, Delta tackles the hard problems using creative approaches to find cost-effective sustainability that values natural resources, energy efficiency and waste stream reductions.

 

About the Quad City International Airport: The Quad City International Airport (QCIA) offers dozens of daily departures to 10 nonstop cities, with hundreds of connections beyond.  The QCIA strives to make travel an easier experience for their customers.

 

About the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce: The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce is the largest business organization in western Illinois and eastern Iowa. Our mission is to enhance the business environment, represent the interests of our members, and foster balanced growth in the Quad-Cities region. Go to QuadCitiesChamber.com for more information.

 
Hotel Blackhawk Wins 2nd Consecutive Smart Meetings Award; 1 of 125 hotels nationally to be recognized PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Richard Martin   
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 07:59
Davenport, IA – Hotel Blackhawk has been named a 2012 Smart Meetings Platinum Choice Award winner. This is the second consecutive year it has received the recognition which was given to only 125 hotels nationwide.

The awards, in their ninth year, are presented by Smart Meetings magazine, the hospitality industry’s premier resource for meeting professionals.

Results are decided during a two-month vote by readers with additional input from editors and industry experts. The awards recognize excellence in service and amenities among meeting facilities in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

“This year’s winners exceeded expectations and exemplified positive, professional standards that reflect a true commitment to the meetings industry,” said Marin Bright, founder and publisher of Smart Meetings. “We want to reward industry leaders, innovators and top service providers that make a real difference for planners and attendees.”

“We are very excited to win this prestigious award from Smart Meetings two years in a row,” said Tim Heim, General Manager of Hotel Blackhawk. “Being one of just 125 nationally with this recognition again shines the spotlight on our stated goal to make the City of Davenport, Iowa and the Quad Cities a destination.”

Hotel Blackhawk re-opened December 15th, 2010. The hotel retains its 96-year-old historic character while featuring modern conveniences throughout the 130 guestrooms and extended-stay suites, six meeting rooms and up to 300-person banquet capacity in the signature Gold Room.

Other features include wireless internet, a fitness center, business center, swimming pool, hot tub, Spa Luce (lu-CHAY), Milan Flower Shop, the Bix Bistro restaurant, the Beignet (been-YAY) Done That coffee shop and Blackhawk Bowl & Martini Lounge. The hotel is part of the Summit Hotels & Resorts group (www.summithotels.com) and the Historic Hotels of America network (www.historichotels.org).

For more, visit www.hotelblackhawk.com or find us on www.facebook.com (Search: Hotel Blackhawk).

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Hannibal Celebrates 36th Annual Folklife Festival PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Michael Gaines   
Monday, 15 October 2012 14:44
Hannibal, MO – Over 100 exhibitors will fill the streets of Hannibal’s Historic Main Street on
Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, for the Hannibal Arts Council’s 36th Annual Autumn
Historic Folklife Festival. Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4
p.m. on Sunday.

The two-day festival features artists, artisans and craftsmen demonstrating and selling handmade
traditional arts and fine crafts, strolling and street musicians, a wide array of great festival foods,
a children’s area, Farmer’s Market, hot or cold apple cider, refreshing root beer and a wine tasting
area.

Attendees can expect to see weaving and spinning, pottery throwing, candle making, leather
workers, furniture making, blacksmithing, carving, jewelry making, painting and drawing, and a
variety of other traditional arts & fine crafts. Over 80 exhibitors from all over the Midwest will
have unique, handmade products for sale.

Entertainment includes a full schedule of local and regional musicians sharing their talents in the
unique Folklife Festival environment of strolling and street performances. There is also a hymn
sing on Sunday morning.

Delicious food choices are a favorite and assist 20 local community organizations with funds for
their year-round programs and services. Foods being served include: kettle corn, chicken –n-
noodles, bread pudding, turkey legs, root beer and cider, and many other edibles made on-site.

The Folklife Festival is sponsored by the Hannibal Arts Council. For further information on
the Autumn Historic Folklife Festival contact the Hannibal Arts Council at 573-221-6545,
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or view full festival details at hannibalarts.com.

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Full Festival Details available at www.hannibalarts.com

 
Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB - North Central U.S. produces 10 of the "prettiest painted places" PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Celestino Ruffini   
Thursday, 04 October 2012 14:43

Galena is chosen as one of the finalists from 193 entries

GALENA, Ill. – The search for the “Prettiest Painted Places in America” is narrowing, with 10 finalists from the North Central U.S., including Galena, Illinois, named by the Paint Quality Institute, an informational entity whose mission is to educate the public about quality paints and coatings. The city was submitted by the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, in joint effort with the city of Galena.

The 10 finalists are: Aurora, Ill.; Bay View Association, Mich.; Evansville, Wis.; Fargo-Moorhead, N.D./Minn.; Galena, Ill.; Grinnell, Iowa; Lowry Hill East, Minn.; Richmond, Ind.; Saugatuck-Douglas, Mich.; and Stillwater, Minn.

After further evaluation, two of the 10 will be named the prettiest painted places in the North Central U.S., alongside winners from five other regions, to make up the 12 prettiest painted places in America.

A “prettiest painted place” is a special town or neighborhood with exceptional community-wide “curb appeal” due to optically pleasing or creative use of exterior paint color, according to Debbie Zimmer, paint and color expert for the Paint Quality Institute.

“One typically thinks of curb appeal defined by beautiful color schemes on homes or buildings, and that’s the case most of the time, but exquisite outdoor murals and creative use of paint color on statues, signage, traffic signals, water towers, and even streets and sidewalks have elevated the appearance of many of today’s prettiest communities,” she said.

“The recognition as a finalist in this prestigious competition is yet another feather in the cap for Galena’s residents. Their dedication towards maintaining the highest standards of community preservation, in particular to paint schemes, continues to pace Galena as a leader in aesthetics, design and integrity,” stated Celestino Ruffini, director of sales and marketing for the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The city of Galena staff deserves the accolades as they continue to educate residents and business owners about the importance of maintaining their buildings, especially the exteriors,” he said.

The search for America’s prettiest painted places began this spring, when the Paint Quality Institute contacted state departments of tourism, local chambers of commerce, and convention and visitors bureaus in all 50 states. Eventually, nearly 200 towns, historic districts, neighborhoods and Main Streets were nominated in the competition.

Last week, a panel of judges with expertise in color selection, exterior painting, and home improvement reviewed the entries and narrowed the field to 60 finalists, 10 from each of six geographic regions. The 12 national winners will be named later this month.

This is the third time the Paint Quality Institute has conducted a search for the prettiest painted places in America. It held the first competition in the 1990s and another in year 2000.

According to Zimmer, the purpose of the competition is to give recognition to places that use paint to express pride in their communities, and highlight how an attractive exterior paint treatment can enhance the curb appeal of virtually any home, building or exterior structure.

To see a complete list of the 60 finalists involved in the search for the “Prettiest Painted Places in America”, visit http://blog.paintquality.com/ppp/.

 
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