MOLINE — A long-awaited passenger rail line from Moline to Chicago has received another extension for $177 million in federal funding.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, on Monday announced the extension from the U.S. Department of Transportation in Federal Railroad Administration funding for the proposed Amtrak route. Funding will be available until Dec. 31, 2024.
Knowing the deadline for Illinois to use the funding was closing in, Duckworth, Durbin and Bustos sent a letter in June to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao, asking for a five-year extension.
“The Chicago-Quad-Cities passenger rail project is a critical component of Illinois’ dynamic transportation system, and today’s extension is an important step toward making it a reality,” Duckworth said in a release. “I look forward to continuing my work with Sen. Durbin, Rep. Bustos and local stakeholders to make sure this project is completed as quickly as possible.”
The funding, first approved in 2010, was delayed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner. Current Gov. J.B. Pritzker renewed the state’s financial commitment as part of the state’s Rebuild Illinois capital program.
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This is the second extension to preserve the funding; another extension was received in June prior to the June 30 deadline.
An additional $225 million in state funding has been set aside to complete the project, which requires construction of connecting rails.
Meanwhile, construction of a passenger train depot and its accompanying Element Hotel, 316 12th St., Moline, was completed in February 2018. The depot and hotel are collectively called The Q.
Durbin, who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped secure the extension in the newly passed 2020 appropriations bill for transportation, housing and urban development .
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Bustos included language in the House-passed 2020 appropriations bill to include the five-year extension of funds.
“The completion of a rail line from Moline to Chicago would help grow the local economy, create jobs and connect folks from across our state with new opportunities,” Bustos said in a release. “Today’s news is the culmination of years of effort and will allow for our region to take the next steps forward to prepare for this crucial project. I’ll continue to partner with Senators Durbin and Duckworth to see this project through to its completion and invest in our infrastructure.”