Sign letter backing QC passenger rail; ‘clock is ticking’

The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce is urging Quad Citians to help persuade the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Iowa Interstate (IAIS) Railroad to work together to bring passenger trains to Moline.

The organization and other regional leaders, including Visit Quad Cities, are urging people throughout the region to sign onto an online document –  which can be found here – to help make a nearly two-decade-long dream of Chicago to Quad Cities passenger rail service a reality before federal funding for the project expires.

The latest regional pitch is entitled, “It’s Time, Bring Passenger Rail to the QC!” It urges the railroad and IDOT to come to an agreement on the infrastructure upgrades that are needed to support passenger rail service between Chicago and the Quad Cities. 

“The Quad Cities Chamber developed this sign-on letter for our members to use for their collective voice to be heard,” said Rhonda Ludwig, director of government affairs for the Quad Cities Chamber.

So far, she said, the response to this latest plea has been encouraging. “It was obviously well-received from the entire Quad Cities region because of the social media shares and public press it has received,” Ms. Ludwig told the QCBJ.

That strong regional show of support also is important in assisting the Quad Cities congressional delegation, led by U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos and U.S. Sens. Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, as they continue to fight for a Chicago to the Quad Cities Amtrak route.

“We have state leaders, such as Bustos, Durbin and Duckworth, who have worked hard to keep this topic in the forefront,” Ms. Ludwig said. “The clock is ticking; federal funds will be lost for this project if it doesn’t start before 2024. The bottom line is this: the QC region wants passenger rail.”

According to the sign-on letter, “The Quad Cities region has waited more than a decade since funds were first appropriated for this project; it’s time to make passenger rail service to the Quad Cities a reality.

“This region has demonstrated its full support of this project time and again from the early 2000s until this very day. Elected officials on a local, state and federal level have reached out to show their support of passenger rail from Moline to Chicago. Numerous news articles have been written. Hundreds of letters of support have been sent.”

The letter also says that the region’s communities and businesses have counted for years on the economic impact anticipated from passenger rail service. “Communities have invested local tax dollars and private funds expecting economic returns that have been stalled and delayed during years of negotiations,” the chamber letter said. “We can’t afford to waste more time and lose state and federal dollars allocated to this project.”

Among the local governments that have heavily invested in passenger rail, for example, is the City of Moline, which has built out its downtown infrastructure in anticipation of arriving passengers. For example, the city has converted a downtown warehouse to serve as a new multi-modal train station. The project includes the Element hotel, new parking, retail shops inside the station as well as a platform and a pedestrian skywalk.

The Quad Cities Chamber letter concludes, “An agreement between IDOT and IAIS that will make passenger rail service from Chicago to the Quad Cities a reality is well overdue. Negotiations over this service between IDOT and IAIS entities need to move forward. New passenger rail service will help to grow the local economy, create jobs and connect the Quad Cities to more opportunities across Illinois. We implore you to strike a deal and make this happen.”

To support passenger rail, sign the letter here

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