PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Those wanting passenger rail in Peoria can now be part of the decision-making process.
Tuesday, city and local leaders revealed a proposed train route that would connect Peoria to Chicago, with stops in LaSalle-Peru, Ottawa, Morris, and Joliet.
Nearly six months ago, Peoria Mayor Dr. Rita Ali teamed with former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to work on bringing high-speed passenger rail to the city.
“Peoria is the largest metropolitan area in the state without passenger rail,” Mayor Ali said.
Since then, Mayor Ali said a group of about 20 key state and local leaders has met once a month. She said efforts have resulted in a feasibility study expected to be completed in April and the arrangement of meetings with top Amtrak officials.
“We are making progress and gaining momentum,” Ali said.
Leadership with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission also said funds have been set aside to study the location of a multimodal center to service passenger rail and potentially other modes of transportation.
TCRPC executive director Eric Miller said the scope of the work will consist of four components:
- The transportation center site selection, including the selection of 3 alternatives. Miller said the focus will be locations in Peoria with proximity to rail and the Illinois River.
- A multimodal analysis
- An economic impact analysis
- A public engagement component
A 10 question online survey has also been released by Peoria city officials along with IDOT to gauge the public’s interest, with questions ranging from the frequency the community would use the train to ticket costs.
“It is important that we collect this information as one more piece in the arsenal as we go to talk to Amtrak,” said Sid Ruckriegel, at-large Peoria City Councilman.
J.D. Dalfonso, CEO of Discover Peoria, said the rail service would provide an additional safe transportation option and a potential economic boost to Central Illinois.
“The more access we have for visitors and residents alike to access Central Illinois, the better it is for that economic driver moving forward,” Dalfonso said.
The CEO of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, Joshua Gunn, said he looks forward to what passenger rail could mean to the region.
“When Peoria can once again be a hub and destination for business, for visitors, and for economic boom,” Gunn said.
Mayor Ali said state and federal funding will be needed to make Peoria passenger rail a reality.