Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
Federal funding secured nearly a decade ago for a state-supported project to build an Amtrak Quad Cities-to-Chicago route has received a multiyear extension, three Democratic U.S. lawmakers representing Illinois announced this week.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has extended $177 million in Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) funding secured in fiscal-year 2010 for a proposed Amtrak route between Chicago and Moline until Dec. 31, 2024, U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos announced Nov. 5 in a jointly issued press release.
“The Chicago-Quad Cities passenger-rail project is a critical component of Illinois’ dynamic transportation system and [this] extension is an important step toward making it a reality,” Duckworth said. “I look forward to continuing my work with Sen. Durbin, Rep. Bustos and local stakeholders to make sure this project is completed as quickly as possible.”
The extension was granted after the three lawmakers wrote twice to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to express their support for extending the deadline for use of federal dollars to help fund the project.
The 160-mile Chicago-to-Quad Cities corridor would be located entirely in Illinois on the BNSF Railway Co. and Iowa Interstate Railroad. The service would begin at Chicago Union Station and terminate at the Moline Multimodal Station.
State funding for the project had been delayed under former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration. However, current Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker renewed Illinois’ commitment to the route this year by providing $225 million in state funding, the lawmakers’ letters stated.
Additionally, the city of Moline has converted a downtown warehouse into a multimodal transportation center and hotel, which will serve as the train station, they said.
Moreover, the Illinois Department of Transportation and Iowa Interstate Rail have been negotiating the project’s scope and infrastructure upgrades needed to convert the tracks for passenger service. An extension of the federal funding would allow the negotiations to continue, the lawmakers wrote.