Peoria executives are once again trying to secure a passenger rail route through the city.
The effort, officially announced Friday morning at a press conference, will begin with a multi-million dollar “pre-feasibility study” to see if there is enough demand to justify it.
These funds were guaranteed by the state Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, in the State Capital Construction Bill.
“We all agree that we want to make this a priority,” said Peoria Mayor Rita Ali of talks that involved representatives of two of the city’s congressmen, her delegation to the Legislative Assembly, state transport service chief, Omer Osman, and others.
Previously:High-speed trains to Illinois, but not to Peoria
“Peoria has been left out for too long,” Ray LaHood, the former congressman and US secretary of transportation who is also supporting the effort, said at the press conference.
With the proposed passenger train passing through Rockford further along the pipeline, Peoria is the largest metropolitan area in the state that does not have passenger rail access. The last time passenger trains passed through Peoria was as part of an Amtrak experimental effort in 1981.
The nearest stops on existing lines to the Peoria area are at Normal, Galesburg, Princeton and Lincoln.
If the study shows a necessary demand, then the efforts could start to interest Amtrak officials and secure funding from the state’s multibillion-dollar capital construction bill and one bill. federal transport for the necessary construction. Gordon-Booth said depending on the length of a route, it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars or more.
Just connecting East Peoria to the Amtrak line through Normal cost $ 134 million in construction, improvements and land acquisition 10 years ago.
Ali and LaHood acknowledged that any completed route could take years to become operational.
Transportation to Peoria:Peoria’s transportation history is second to none
“The reason it’s absolutely critical that we move forward quickly now is because we probably won’t see, in most of our lives, as much money in our system that will be available to Peoria,” or for anywhere in the country for that matter, ”Gordon-Booth said.
The group hoped that a study could be completed within the next six months. The last big push to bring passenger rail transport here was ten years ago.
Gordon-Booth said “all options (are) on the table” as to whether a potential line would run east-west or north-south.