Indiana has requested $71.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to improve the congested Norfolk Southern rail line that connects Chicago to Detroit.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has proposed upgrading eight locations between Porter and the Illinois state line that would reduce delay time by 61% percent and save 752 gallons of fuel each week.

The application says the proposal addresses the single most delay-prone intercity rail passenger corridor in the country, in a way that provides both congestion relief and a path toward development of a high-speed corridor.

The Federal Rail Administration is expected to approve grants for this category of high-speed intercity passenger rail funds no later than February. If approved, most construction would take place in 2010 and 2011, with the lines remaining in service.

According to federal estimates, 703 jobs would be created or saved during the project. A copy of Indiana’s application can be found online at

Fourteen daily Amtrak trains use the line.

Indiana is one of nine states in the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, an ongoing effort to develop and expand an improved passenger rail system in the Midwest. The proposed system would provide high-speed rail service (80-110 mph) with shorter travel times, more frequent service, and better accessibility and reliability. Other participating states are Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska and Wisconsin.