IDOT, IAIS need to come together once and for all to get rail line construction moving

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief

Illinois lawmakers are once again trying to rally state transportation agencies in an attempt to create a Quad Cities-to-Chicago passenger line.

Illinois Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin along with Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos have sent letters to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Iowa Interstate Railroad (IAIS) calling on both to get together and finalize an agreement on the scope and costs of infrastructure upgrades needed for the passenger line.

Federal funding—$177 million—was marked for the project back in 2010 with the hopes service would begin in 2014. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner delayed the funding when he took office in 2015. However, current Gov. J.B. Pritzker included the project in the Rebuild Illinois capital program.

In 2019, the Federal Railroad Administration gave IDOT and IAIS a five-year extension to use funding for the project.

The current rail lines that will be used for the route can only handle Class 2 and Class 3 rail transportation. Rail would need to be upgraded along the entire line before passenger service could start.

“After years of unnecessary delays, the last remaining hurdle to construction is an agreement between IDOT and IAIS on upgrades needed to convert existing freight tracks for passenger service,” the lawmakers said in the letter sent to both IDOT and IAIS.

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