Community input solicited for Metra train expansion feasibility study in DeKalb

A final report highlighting, among other things, survey findings will become available to city leaders in May.

A train arrives Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, at the Elburn Metra Station.

DeKALB – The project team behind the city of DeKalb and Northern Illinois University’s bids to suss out support for a Metra extension and feasibility study are soliciting DeKalb County area businesses and locals to weigh in.

The DeKalb Metra Extension Feasibility Study survey makes up a portion of a multipart study aiming to determine the feasibility of extending Metra’s Union Pacific West line from the Elburn station to DeKalb. City leaders have recently expressed strong support for the endeavor, saying it would also aid NIU enrollment.

The survey can be reached here or on the city’s website

The city of DeKalb recently released early results of its Metra commuter train feasibility study that reportedly show more than 10,000 people commute daily between DeKalb and along the greater Chicago Metra rail line cities.

The study is meant to help determine whether a train route could connect DeKalb County to Chicago. The full study’s findings have not been released to the public yet.

Currently, if residents and community members would like to access Metra from DeKalb, there is a shuttle bus to help facilitate their public transportation options.

In January, the DeKalb City Council approved a $98,379 contract with Chicago-based Sam Schwartz Consulting LLC for the city to undergo a Metra feasibility study. The city also has taken other steps, including devoting a downtown lot to free parking for those wishing to take the transit bus to Elburn instead of parking at the Elburn train station. Elburn bus trips also have increased in frequency.

The study takes a close look various factors, including travel market conditions between DeKalb and the Chicago metropolitan area, the number of potential riders, potential costs and other requirements for the service extension and funding opportunities.

City officials have said that key findings, to date, indicate that about 10,800 people travel daily between DeKalb County and the communities along the Union Pacific West line, including the city of Chicago, according to the city.

Project leaders are contemplating that extending the Union Pacific West line would require construction and use of 15-miles of track owned by the Union Pacific Railroad, according to the city. The feasibility study would layout the agreements needed between the city, Union Pacific and Metra to facilitate operation of the service.

A final report highlighting, among other things, survey findings is expected to become available to city leaders in May.