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IL-DOT Is In Negotiations w/Partners to Restore Passenger Rail Service between Moline & Chicago

Black train engine with red and yellow stripes with Iowa Interstate written on the side
Michelle O'Neill
An Iowa Interstate Railroad engine pulls a freight train through Moline, IL in February 27th, 2023.

Federal agencies are aware of the discussions but are not actively involved. The Iowa Interstate Railroad owns the tracks from Wyanet to the Quad Cities that need work before carrying passenger trains.

Three people stand at and around a speaker's podium.
Michelle O'Neill
State lawmakers Gregg Johnson (L), Mike Halpin (C), and Moline Mayor Sangeetha Rayapati at a Feb. 27th, 2023 press conference

Six months ago, the mayor of Moline and local state lawmakers asked the Illinois DOT and Amtrak to request federal intervention in the process. They specifically requested intervention from the Surface Transportation Board.

Nine years ago (in 2014) when the Illinois DOT began work on improving the eastern half of the route, between Chicago and Wyanet, the department said an agreement had been reached with Iowa Interstate to study what improvements are needed for the 53 miles from Wyanet to Moline. (See link to story below.)

Then five years ago, an Illinois DOT officials told a meeting of the BiState Regional Commission to, "Be patient." (See link to story below.)

Neither the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) nor the Surface Transportation Board (STB) are actively involved in the negotiations.  We do, however, keep the FRA abreast of progress with the project and they are aware of the ongoing negotiations.

Paul Wappel, Public Information Officer, Illinois Department of Transportation

Federal funds totalling $177 million will expire at the end of next year after an extension five years ago. Last month, the Illinois DOT said in an email message that it, "has had preliminary discussions with the FRA -- [Federal Railroad Administration] -- about extending the funding, if necessary.”

The money was originally announced in 2010, with passenger rail service to begin in 2014.

Officially, Michelle's title is WVIK News Editor. She does everything there is to do in the newsroom and whatever may be needed around the radio station.
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