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One more milestone has been reached in establishing Chicago-to-Moline passenger rail service through La Salle and Bureau counties, but many more steps must be taken before trains are added to the new route.
Illinois Department of Transportation earlier this week announced an agreement has been reached with Iowa Interstate Railroad to perform design work for a portion of the route for the new passenger rail service between Chicago and Moline. The IAIS Railroad owns the former Rock Island line, which is still “dark,” or not modernized, to handle today’s passenger trains.
“This agreement is another significant milestone in re-establishing passenger service between two great Illinois cities,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Erica Borggren. “I would like to thank the Iowa Interstate Railroad, as well as the BNSF, for working with us as the host railroads to deliver a service that will create jobs, spark economic development, provide another travel option and improve the quality of life in so many communities along this line.”
The agreement permits the Iowa Interstate Railroad to begin designing the signal system and plan the execution of the track and tie improvements that will allow passenger trains on the 53 miles between Wyanet and Moline.
Once the planning work is done later this year and upon agreement between IDOT and the railroad regarding the scope of the project and the responsibilities for maintenance and operations expenses for the service, IDOT and the railroad will determine a construction timeline and start date for service along the entire route between Chicago and Moline.
Bureau County action? In the Bureau County portion, an IDOT spokesman said no property has been purchased for linking the IAIS and BNSF lines in the Princeton-Wyanet area. Those aspects will be covered in construction and maintenance agreements, he said.
Work starting at Aurora next month Construction is scheduled to begin in September at BNSF’s Eola Yard in Aurora to facilitate additional passenger trains on the 109 miles between Chicago and Wyanet.
“The Chicago-Moline service is made possible by $78 million from Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! capital program and $177 million in federal funding,” according to an IDOT press release. “Agreement between IDOT and the railroads will return passenger rail to the Quad Cities for the first time since 1979. Service will begin with two daily round-trips, with stops in LaGrange, Naperville, Plano, Mendota, Princeton and Geneseo, which will receive a new $1.7 million station as part of the project.”
Quad Cities project In addition to these improvements, Illinois Jobs Now! is providing $5 million toward the new multimodal station in downtown Moline, a project that includes a federal contribution of $10 million and a $1.7 million local match.
IDOT has led the multistate effort to utilize $47 million in federal funds from the $177 million grant to purchase new Amtrak locomotives and railcars for the Chicago-Moline corridor.
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