January 22, 2014 – A status report by the Illinois Department of Transportation on implementing passenger rail service from Chicago to Quad Cities was given by Joe Shacter, Director of Public and Intermodal Transportation. He provided an update based on the status of engineering to date. Phase I of the effort is 79 mph service with two round trips daily (four trains per day) between Chicago and the Quad Cities. Intermediate stops are planned for La Grange, Naperville, Plano, Mendota, Princeton and Geneseo. Phase II is the extension of that service to Iowa City which will depend on how the State of Iowa proceeds.
Mr. Shacter reiterated that Phase I - Chicago to Quad Cities has 30% engineering completed and procurement of rolling stock is underway as well as establishing construction, maintenance and service agreements between the appropriate responsible parties. Key project partners include the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Illinois Commerce Commission, among some of the stakeholders. The DOT is working with the ICC on rail signals and gates at crossing. Analysis also includes structure and rail diagnostics for determine existing conditions. Additional efforts to develop stations in Geneseo and Moline are in progress.
In 2010, both DOTs submitted a grant to the Federal Railroad Administration and were awarded $230 million. Of this, $177 million has been committed to Illinois for Phase I and $53 million has been committed to Iowa for Phase II. Based on the revised costs, it is anticipated that Illinois will need $78 million to match the project, up from $45 million. A layover facility will need to be included in the Illinois project since there has been no decision to move forward by Iowa. Between Rock Island and Silvis, a second mainline is being added as well as other sidings, signaling and positive train control.
Mr. Shacter indicated that the project completion goal is late 2015. The ILDOT will have a more definitive timeline within a few months. The presentation was followed by comments and questions by Commissioners.