Some Belvidere leaders think passenger rail service will drive economic development in the region. City leaders are planning growth in a way to attract Metra rail service. There are some new developments in efforts to get that service on track.
Belvidere leaders are planning for the future, a future with passenger rail service. They're changing city plans to best suit this effort and have decided to build an I-90 interchange at Irene Road instead a half mile to the east as originally planned.
"There isn't any opposition to it. It makes sense. It will in the long run reduce the cost of the interchange construction," says Mayor Fred Brereton.
While a Belvidere Metra rail station is years or even decades down the line, city leaders say they have to plan for it now.
"Whether it's 10 years or 15 years down the road, it certainly is smarter to do it then to try and fix a problem. It's smart to do it now and not later," Mark Williams says.
Belvidere's mayor and city leaders' hopes for economic development are riding the rails. They say passenger train service is good for business and quality of life
"Passenger rail service opens up all sorts of transportation opportunities, job opportunities and reverse commutes," says Mayor Brereton.
The interchange is the first step in a plan to bring Metra to the stateline. The next major phase comes in the form of a feasibility study on the issue that should be released next year.
Originally the city was going to construct the interchange at I-90 between Town Hall and Irene Road. Leaders from Boone County and Winnebago County will be involved with the study that will come from a $200,000 federal government fund.