$375K coming to Rockford planning council for modern rail assessment

Train tracks
Train tracks(Sophia Hilmar)
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 3:30 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Congressman Eric Sorensen (IL-17) Tuesday announced just over $375,000 in funding to study rail infrastructure and development in Rockford.

Region 1 Planning Council will use the funding from the Department of Transportation (DoT)’s Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, to assess and develop an infrastructure plan for improving mobility for residents

Questions the planning council will focus on include the feasibility of removing, repurposing and modernizing rail infrastructure for passenger and freight, mainly at the southwest Rockford rail yard while discussing transit-oriented development opportunities related to a new passenger rail station.

“Transportation decisions made decades ago have severely impacted communities across Illinois, limiting access to opportunity for residents and preventing development that would strengthen local economies and create sustainable jobs,” Sorensen said. “I welcome this forward-thinking funding opportunity that’s going to reconnect Illinoisans, and I applaud the Region 1 Planning Council for working to create stronger communities in our region.”

“Unfortunately, there are a number of rail assets that sit unused, crisscrossing our neighborhoods and downtown Rockford,” executive director for Region 1 Planning Council, Michael Dunn Jr. said in part. “Too often, this old infrastructure increases blight, creates inefficiencies for our transportation systems and stymies neighborhood revitalization.”

As they are now, the existing rail lines limit an extension of the downtown street grid, both impacting economic and housing development and blocking residents from a direct connection to downtown.