Leaders discuss getting passenger rail off the ground

Published: Nov. 19, 2018 at 7:09 PM CST
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A referendum to look into creating a passenger rail train making a stop in Rockford was approved with flying colors, but what happens now?

"It's gonna be expensive - it's gonna be a major effort, and if there's not the political will to do it locally, then we should not head down that path," said 34th District Illinois State Senator Steve Stadelman.

Stadelman says making actual movement happen is a whole new story.

"I was involved when Governor Quinn first announced the project back in 2014, Amtrak service was going to begin in 2015, right? Except the new governor killed the project. Now we have a new governor, so it's a new opportunity," said Stadelman.

In a referendum on November 6th's ballot, voters supported a railway from Chicago to Dubuque to be considered once again, with a combined 79 percent approval in Rockford, as well as Boone and Winnebago counties.

"I think it would be wonderful for Galena in particular. We just view it as a way to increase visitation of our community without adding to traffic congestion both on high way 20 and in our community itself," said Galena City Administrator Mark Moran

Governor Pat Quinn's original plan had an estimated cost of $230 million.

Senator Stadleman says that plan included improvements that weren't necessary.

"One of the first things I'm gonna need to do now is find out from regional leaders if this is gonna be a priority for them," said Stadelman.

While there are many on board for making this plan a reality, they say there's a lot of work left to be done.

Supporters of the railway encourage anyone else who supports it to call their local senators to push for movement on the project.

They hope that J.B. Pritzker administration will be a new change to push the project through.