Letter: Passenger rail in the area

Dear editor,

On July 20, Mr. Gerald H. Podraza, Democratic Candidate, Illinois 45th Senate District, submitted to Illinois Department of Transportation, Office of Passenger Rail, a counter proposal to return of passenger rail extension, Rockford to Dubuque.

Twin Cities Zephyr! This train operated successfully from Chicago to St. Paul, Minnesota. Tracks are currently owned by the BNSF and meticulously maintained. Twin City Zephyr given its established historical service is eligible for special AMTRAK financing which targets revival of passenger service on pre-existing routes.

In the past, Twin City Zephyr had a route that traveled from Chicago to St. Paul. Presently, we could expect that it would have stops/stations in DeKalb, Oregon, Savanna and East Dubuque.  Given the passion for passenger rail demonstrated by Wisconsin and Minnesota folks, the route could be eventually extended to St. Paul through Prairie du Chien and La Crosse.

In order for passenger rail to be a viable transportation modality, a dependable and daily income source needs to exist. Twin Cities Zephyr would pick up students from Northern Illinois University and five colleges/universities in Dubuque. If extended to La Crosse, another two universities could potentially contribute to ridership.  

On a seasonal basis, tourist ridership would contribute to a daily income stream given appeal of communities like Oregon, Savanna, Galena and Dubuque.  If extended north again, Prairie du Chien and La Crosse attract numerous tourists.

If anecdotal evidence is credible, there appears to be an increase in Galena visits by individuals who reside in the western suburbs of Chicago, exactly the area where the Twin Cities Zephyr would traverse; another contribution to daily ridership.

-Gerald H. Podraza

Democratic Candidate, 45th Illinois Senate District


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