PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The City of Peoria will present three locations for a potential passenger rail station at a public input meeting on Thursday.
The suggested locations are the area around the Gateway Building, the area around River Station, and the area around the United States Post Office. All potential locations are near the river and on former passenger rail tracks from the 1970s.
“Peoria happens to be the largest metro area in the state that doesn’t have rail service,” said Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich.
The $50,000 rail location study was funded by the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission. Executive Director Eric Miller said a passenger rail in Peoria is overdue.
“The main part is we want to make this most convenient for the ultimate passengers of the rail station…We feel like we’ve been underserving our population,” he said.
Miller said passenger rails fell out of the favor in the 1970s with the “car boom”, congestion factors and longer trips. He said the time is right to bring back the rail because $66 billion in federal funds were allocated by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act specifically for passenger rails.
“The leaders thought we could take advantage of that new investment to bring this idea up,” he said.
Urich said more than 30,000 people responded to a survey about the rail.
“There were a lot of people that said that they would use it frequently and a lot of people that were hopeful that they would see that the service would begin,” he said.
However, additional questions remain. The Illinois Department of Transportation is conducting a larger study to determine the feasibility of the rail.
“The big challenge that we’re going to have is we’ve got to make sure that we have enough riders that would be able to sustain the route, and that’s something that the federal government wants to look at very closely that IDOT wants to look at closely,” Urich said.
Urich said that study should be completed by May.
Thursday’s open house will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Gateway Building, one of the three potential locations.
Urich said the meeting is an opportunity for the public to make their voices heard.
“Please share with us your thoughts and concerns, or your thoughts and observations about rail service. The more that we hear from the public the better,” he said.