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Nixon, Quinn to join forces to press for high-speed rail

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 20, 2009 - To borrow a term from Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's beloved basketball (before bum knees did him in), he and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn are attempting a full-court press to lobby for a high-speed rail line between St. Louis and Chicago.

In a rare joint appearance, Quinn and Nixon are holding a joint news conference Monday afternoon at St. Louis'  Amtrak Station to help make their case.

The two governors envision the St. Louis-Chicago line as the first leg of a regional system that could link most of the Midwest's major cities, including Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Indianapolis.

Their push now stems from the $8 billion in federal stimulus money available for high-speed lines around the country. As Nixon's staff notes, "Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued guidance to states to outline the application procedure to access these funds." 

Perhaps of even more significance will be the action by Nixon and Quinn before the cameras and tape-recorders roll, and reporters uncap their pens.
"Prior to this news conference,'' Nixon's staff said, the two governors "will meet privately with St. Louis-area business and community leaders to review these federal guidelines and discuss the economic benefits of a St. Louis-to-Chicago rail line for the region."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.