If you read the Rockford newspapers or watch its television stations it would appear that a decision has been made regarding the route for Amtrak route that would connect Rockford and Galena. Belvidere announced it could begin constructing a depot for passengers later this year. Rockford likewise.
Assuming the sale?
A decision has not been officially announced by the State or IDOT.
Bonnie Hanson, Executive Director, Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce feels there is still an opportunity to support the Direct Route through Genoa.
Here’s her pitch:
THE DIRECT ROUTE IS STILL THE BEST!
The Direct Route was found best – in all aspects by the recent study performed by Amtrak. With the lowest capital cost, it offers the lowest operating cost, highest ridership, the fastest service and quickest implementation, with the fewest operating agreements required. The capital cost savings for the Direct Route may approach $20,000,000, and with the least operating cost, it will save the State money every year.
The Consensus has been for the Direct Route/Canadian National – The Rockford Area Transportation Study, the regional planning agency for the Rockford-Belvidere area endorsed this Route. The effort by individuals from Belvidere has been recognized as an effort that they are trying to change the Consensus.
IDOT approved the DIRECT Route just a few months ago for Federal funding.
Why wouldn’t the best route for federal funding be the best route for State funding? – In fact, in view of the State’s precarious financial status, it is even more important to use the only Route found cost effective by an objective study. The State Capital program is potentially short revenue and the State has to pay the annual operating subsidy for this route, year after year. The Direct Route will cost substantially less in operating subsidy. Further, in order to add trains to this Amtrak route in the future, pulling ridership from 600,000 more population makes the operating deficit less and the ridership numbers better to support expansion of service.
The Direct Route has regional support, including that of State Representative Bob Pritchard, the DeKalb County Board Chair and unanimous County Board, the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, the Village of South Elgin, and Mayors, Cities and Chambers of Commerce throughout the area.
The Direct Route is the best planning by strategically positioning stations to maximize potential ridership. The Direct Route running through Kane and DeKalb County adds a South Elgin station for the rapidly growing Fox Valley. The Direct Route services the greater Rockford area with the two station locations they want Downtown, and the South Alpine Station, just a few minutes from Belvidere, and at the same time only the Direct Route adds a population of over 600,000 serviced by the South Elgin and Genoa Stations identified in the Amtrak Study.
SELECT THE SUSTAINABLE ROUTE – It has been nearly 30 years since the previous Amtrak service was lost due to low ridership. It has been a strenuous effort to get to this point for service to be restored. The routing is essential to ensure that the highest potential ridership be achieved to make this Amtrak Route successful, because if this Amtrak service fails again, it would be virtually impossible to ever get it back.
Adding over 600,000 more in population with stations in DeKalb County and South Elgin in Kane County will give this Amtrak Service the best shot at being viable and sustainable.
COMMUTER RAIL TO BELVIDERE IS A MIRAGE – Commuter rail to the Rockford/Belvidere area has been projected to be at a capital cost of $247,000,000. It is clear that since federal funds are not even available for projects like Chicago to Dubuque long distance rail, federal funds are not enough for improving existing rail services, and with the President’s plans to stem the federal deficit, funding new commuter rail systems is not likely. The RTA has its own fiscal problems so Metra would not be a realistic option, and in fact, this is not something in the Metra plans. The commuter service operating deficit could not be covered by a ¼% sales tax by NICTI’s own calculations. 68% of Rockford area residents by NICTI were not in favor of a sales tax increase. Rockford voters repealed Home Rule a few years ago.
Here’s some supporting documentation:
The report above, conducted by Amtrak, clearly shows that the Direct Route through Genoa is the least expensive to make ready, least expensive to operate, and would serve the most passengers.
If you’d prefer the Direct Route through Genoa take a moment of your time TODAY to print, sign and send and or fax letters to Gov. Quinn (fax number 217-524-4049) and Sec Hannig (fax number 217-782-6121). It is imperative to get this done this week as a decision will be made in the very near future.
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