State representative candidate hopes to reignite proposed railway project

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- A rail service connecting the stateline to Chicago is something many of us have heard about for a long time, but candidate for Illinois state representative, Angie Bodine, is trying to bring some movement back to the project.

"This is an opportunity for us to move forward as an entire region," said Bodine.

For many, a railway system connecting Chicago to Dubuque sounds like a dream come true.

"We have thousands of commuters that live in our area and commute to Chicago or the suburbs," said Bodine.

Bodine is looking for support on a referendum to find out how feasible the project is. The previous estimate was $233 million.

"The funding from that would come from multiple different sources, that would include money from the capital budget, which can be re-allocated," said Bodine.

"This isn't really a controversial idea. It's just something that people keep putting off and putting off. Commuter rail service to Winnebago County would be an incredible driver of jobs and economic growth," said 19th District Winnebago County Board member Daniel Fellars.

Some support the idea but are still skeptical.

"A passenger train in Belvidere would be a wonderful thing, if it comes on a regular basis, not just once or twice a day. I don't see a lot of sense in that," said District 2 Boone County Board member Catherine Ward.

State Representative Joe Sosnowski released a statement questioning where the money will come from to build it.

"Without subsidized financial assistance from local taxpayers, the federal government, and the state, commuter rail to Rockford will remain a long-term objective but one that we should continue to pursue," said Sosnowski.

"We are the largest metropolitan statistical area that, in the state, that does not have service by both passenger rail, as well as highway," said Bodine.

Bodine hopes to put the referendum on the November Midterm General Election Ballot. She needs about 10,000 more signatures in Winnebago County and about 1,500 more in Boone. Those signatures are due by August 6.