The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce is making another push to get passenger rail service from here to Chicago. This week it asked members of the Illinois Senate to include money for it in a possible infrastructure bill.
Tyler Power, Director of Government Affairs, says he told a hearing in Peoria the service would boost the local economy by 25 million dollars a year. Currently a majority of our tourists come from the Chicago area, and nearly every one of them drives here.
"So if we can have less people taking their cars, and more people taking the train, you can see where that money starts to help our economy and help our region to bring Chicagoans to the Quad Cities and Quad Citizens back to Chicago. "
He also told the committee the original estimated cost of making the necessary track improvements was 50 million dollars.
"But that is a 2010 number, so we anticipate that number being higher. Because of that time lapse things have not gotten cheaper, labor has gone up, so our ask in total was around 70 million dollars."
Power says the main problem right now is trying to get the state of Illinois and Iowa Interstate Railroad to agree on how to upgrade the tracks from the Quad Cities to Wyanet in Bureau County, and complete a connection there with BNSF tracks coming from Chicago.