Commuter Rail Feasibility Study

By: Rebekah Baum
By: Rebekah Baum

Matt Mattelig owns Clinton Junction, a quaint cafe and antique shop in Clinton’s business district. Putting the rail line into use that's literally outside his door, could be the economic engine to steam-roll new business.

"Three years ago when I was looking at the building, there was a study that had been done, and it looked like it was going to be pretty much a done deal. So I thought, this would be a good thing to get started here, and be established so when a train came in, we'd be all ready for it," says Mattelig.

Wisconsin's department of transportation will begin a feasibility study next year--looking at rail expansion from Harvard to Clinton, about 7 miles east of Beloit.

"Beloit City Manager Larry Arft says the city has been supportive of both rail initiatives--linking Harvard to Clinton, and the expansion from Elgin to Rockford. Arft says if Rail came to Clinton, they'd be interested in creating a bus shuttle service to quickly move people from Clinton to Beloit."

So how could this study impact the northern Illinois commuter rail initiative? Greater Rockford Transportation Coalition President Brad Englin says only positively.

"We're looking at a two-pronged approach. We're looking at coming out of Elgin, coming through Belvidere and on through downtown Rockford. This would help support Beloit.

Any good transportation system in the area, you always want to have multiple options for people just in case something is backed up, i.e., the tollway, where that's going to be under construction for about the next 10 years," says Englin.

A feasibility study for Nicri has already been performed and the next step is securing federal funding so an alternatives study can be conducted.

"We like to look at the region as a whole, and see how we can work together, from Rochelle up to Beloit...and what helps one will eventually help us all," says Englin.

According to the Nicri feasibility study, about 225,000 passengers would use the train each year generating around 2-million dollars a year.


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