Prospects are improving for the advent of passenger rail service between the Quad Cities and Chicago. During the just completed session of the Illinois General Assembly, $225 million was set aside for the proposed Amtrak service that has been in the works for many, many years.
Tyler Power, Director of Government Affairs for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, says the money will pay for track upgrades between the Quad Cities and Wyanet, on tracks owned by the Iowa Interstate Railroad. But, it will also pay for more if necessary.
"There's enough money there that it will cover the absolute worst case scenario, so funding is not going to be an issue whatsoever. So, if we need to build a completely new line, then it can be done within those appropriations."
The original estimate in 2009 was for 40 million dollars to pay for track upgrades, but that was only for improvements and not for completely new track.
Power says the next step is for the Iowa Interstate and state of Illinois to work out an agreement to fix up the track connecting to the BNSF line coming from Chicago to Wyanet.
The chamber is also pleased the Illinois General Assembly approved $9 million to help Western Illinois University expand its School of Engineering on the Quad Cities campus.