Consultants will be identifying where the best location is for people to be let off, where passengers have the most access to attractions, what location works best to entice riders.— Kevin Lindeman, executive director of North Central Illinois Council of Governments
Consultants will begin work in spring figuring out where depot spots or train platforms will be located at Ottawa, La Salle-Peru, Utica and Morris for the Peoria to Chicago passenger rail line.
A feasibility study in July 2022 confirmed the proposed Amtrak train seeks stops in La Salle-Peru, Ottawa and Morris, and a flag stop in Utica, on the three-hour trip, steering committee members said Thursday at Illinois Valley Community College during a North Central Illinois Council of Governments meeting.
Old train stations within those communities, however, likely will not be used when the rail line is up and running, with the exception of Morris.
“Consultants will be identifying where the best location is for people to be let off, where passengers have the most access to attractions, what location works best to entice riders,” said Kevin Lindeman, executive director of NCICG and member of the rail’s steering committee, of consultants. “All of that will be studied.”
The region received a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation that will cover its portion of the study, which is expected to take until about the end of the year and involve a number of meetings with community leaders.
The Peoria-to-Chicago passenger rail is about 10 years from being up and operational, the steering committee members said. The preliminary cost to implement the Peoria to Chicago railway service is estimated at $2.45 billion, though that number is far from finalized.
Grant funds will be used to develop a phase I report that required to establish environmental issues, public involvement, preliminary design, ridership forecast, railroad coordination, and a more detailed train operations strategy. A better understanding of how much the project will cost will come from this report.
A feasibility study suggested five round trip trains may be utilized when the line is operational, leaving every couple of hours. Through the data collected in the survey, the group estimated a service would expect anywhere between 440 and 830 passengers a day; or a daily average of about 600.
The attractions and population within the Illinois Valley, along with its lack of direct access of rail to Peoria or Chicago, helped bring the Peoria-to-Chicago line to fruition, said Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich.
There are 95,000 people that live within 30 minutes of La Salle-Peru, 120,000 people that live within a half hour of Ottawa and 292,000 people that live within that time span of Morris.
“Your population centers are supporting the rail,” Urich said. “Whether riders go to Chicago for a day trip, or they are coming down to Peoria for what we’ve learned would mostly be for health care trips.”