Sen. Dick Durbin holds Town Hall meeting at SIU

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois hosted a Town Hall meeting with constituents in southern Illinois on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Southern Illinois University.

The event took place at the Law School Auditorium on SIU's campus, at 5:30 p.m.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Durbin met with Carbondale leaders to discuss the impact that President Trump's proposed cuts to transportation would have on southern Illinois.

The president's budget blueprint would cut funding for the U.S. Department of Transportation by 13 percent, eliminating Amtrak's long distance routes, the Essential Air Service program and the TIGER grant program.

"Despite President Trump's repeated pledge to invest $1 trillion to rebuild our nation's aging infrastructure, his first budget blueprint actually slashes funding for entire programs that provide critical investments to railway and air travel networks across the country and Illinois," Durbin said. "Nowhere would the negative effects of eliminating these programs be felt more strongly than in our state's rural communities where federal funding is vital for residents to have access to reliable, affordable modes of transportation."

Ending funding for Amtrak's long-distance service would put its "City of New Orleans" train, which runs through Carbondale, at risk. The train is tied to the region's economy, allowing Carbondale residents and SIU students to commute to cities upstate like Chicago and Champaign-Urbana.

Amtrak operates 15 long-distance trains across the nation, including eight that run through Illinois.

The Essential Air Service program provides funding to support commercial air service in rural areas throughout the country, connecting remote areas to major hubs and helping to grow area businesses and support economic growth.

Eliminating funding for the program would force rural airports to suspend service and residents to drive hundreds of miles to reach the nearest major airport.

Veterans Airport in Marion, Ill. receives around $2 million in federal funding through the EAS program each year.

The TIGER grant program has been used to fund a variety of infrastructure projects throughout the state. Carbondale plans on reapplying for a TIGER grant to help fund the modernization of the city's Amtrak station and multimodal facility.

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