Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Moline, Ill., to buy property for Amtrak terminal

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Moline, Ill., is one step closer to being a hub in the return of passenger rail service to the Quad-Cities, the Quad-City Times reports. In a unanimous vote July 20, the city council approved spending $993,000 to purchase property near existing railroad tracks for conversion to an Amtrak terminal. The property is at 1201 4th Ave., the site of the O'Rourke Building, and an adjacent vacant parcel at 323 13th St. The property is owned by High Rent LLC.

In January, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn promised $45 million to create the Chicago to Quad-Cities route. That money is to be used for track and equipment upgrades.

 

An application also is being made by the state for a $16-million Tiger II grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, said Paul Rumler, executive director of the Quad-Cities Passenger Rail Coalition.

 

The 2010 appropriations bill authorized $600 million for National Infrastructure Investments grant program, aka Tiger II, that is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

 

"We're one step closer to having rail service in the Quad-Cities," Rumler said, adding that the goal is to have everything up and running by 2012.

 

He added that the purchase of the property is Moline's match to the Tiger II grant.

 

"The city either had to purchase the property or at least have an option on it to get the Tiger II grant," Rumler said.

The terminal will be built in modules, and will grow as traffic grows, he said.

The Tiger II grant will be announced in September, Rumler said, along with a high-speed rail grant to extend service to Iowa City.

Earlier this year, plans were announced to build the Amtrak station at Centre Station, the mass transit facility on River Drive across the railroad track. But Moline Mayor Don Welvaert said the first floor of the O'Rourke Building is now the planned location. The station can be expanded to the adjacent vacant property.

Welvaert said he is confident the passenger rail service will be popular.

"There are hundreds of students at the University of Iowa from here and Chicago that will travel back and forth," he said.

"There are people in Chicago who will take the train to come to the i wireless Center, and people here who will take the train to Chicago," he added.

"It will be different from driving your car three hours and then parking your car for $60 a night," Welvaert said.

In January, Illinois was awarded $1.2 billion in federal money for high-speed rail service between Chicago and St. Louis.

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