Will New Illinois Governor Help Bring Trains to the QC Faster?
It's been a decade since legislatures started planning to bring rail service back to the Quad Cities. There's been some bumps in the road, the latest being the Illinois budget impasse. With the election of J.B. Prtizker as governor, the Chicago Tribune is reporting some hope the process will get back on track.
Ray Forsythe, planning and development director with the city of Moline, tells the Tribune "We’re hoping with the new administration that they’ll put a higher emphasis on passenger rail and keep it moving."
That's great, but the Tribune article outlines what still has to be done to bring service to the Quad Cities. That includes the state and the Federal Railroad Administration negotiating with Iowa Interstate Railroad for trackage rights from Wyanet to Moline and figuring out how and who will pay for upgrades of that track so passenger trains can run on it. Additionally a connection between the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks and the Iowa Interstate Network needs to be built.
Continued state and federal funding for the project is also important. The paper says that will require a new state capital bill, and a spokesperson for Pritzker says he's committed to working across the aisle to leverage as much federal funding for the state as he can. How much of that would be dedicated to the Quad Cities rail project remains to be seen.
Assuming Illinois politicians don't play politics with the budget, I'd say it's going to be a couple of years before a gleaming stream-liner pulls into that new train station in Moline. The infrastructure improvements along the Iowa Interstate Railroad and building a connection between the BNSF and the Iowa Interstate could take that long if everything goes well. Unfortunately, it seems like it's been decades since everything has gone well for passenger rail service in the Quad Cities.