Bustos Urges Rauner to Release State Funding for Quad-Cities to Chicago Passenger Rail

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) urged Governor Bruce Rauner to release previously approved state funding to build a Quad-Cities to Chicago passenger rail line. Last May, Governor Rauner used an executive order to halt this funding and, with federal funding already secured, the Governor’s executive order has left a critical economic development project in limbo. In her letter, Bustos also asked that if the Governor does not release the funds immediately, he should at the very least provide a public timeline for when he intends to do so.

“The passenger rail line connecting the Quad-Cities to Chicago is an incredibly important economic development project for our region so I’m urging Governor Rauner to stop blocking job creation in our community,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “With federal funding already secure to build this critically important infrastructure project, it’s irresponsible for the Governor to continue obstructing. I strongly urge the Governor to provide the State funding that was allocated for this program or at the very least provide a timeline for when he will end this unnecessary delay. Working families in the Quad-Cities and beyond deserve transparency and accountability.”

As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Congresswoman Bustos strongly supported the bipartisan long-term highway bill that included authorization for federal funding for passenger rail. Additionally, since announcing the project in 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the Illinois Department of Transportation $177 million in High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program grants to bring rail service from Chicago to the Quad-Cities. Most recently in December, Congresswoman Bustos wrote Governor Rauner to reiterate her top infrastructure priorities for the 17th Congressional District, including the Quad-Cities to Chicago passenger rail line.

The text of Congresswoman Bustos’ letter can be found here and below:

April 26, 2016

Governor Bruce Rauner

Office of the Governor

207 State House

Springfield, Illinois 62706

Dear Governor Rauner:

I write to ask for your assistance in providing certainty for residents, businesses, and other stakeholders in my district. Specifically, I ask you to establish a timeline on which you will conclude your administration’s review of the Chicago to Quad-Cities passenger rail project and share that timeline publicly. Additionally, I urge you to ultimately release the state funds to make this project a reality.

Since taking office in 2013, I have met with business leaders, elected officials and hard working families in communities across central and western Illinois. In these meetings, I have heard from countless people how important it is to follow through on the promise of connecting the Quad-Cities and Chicago with passenger rail service.

Beginning rail service between Chicago and the Quad-Cities will create hundreds of jobs and provide a big boost to the region and Illinois’ economy. The Iowa Department of Transportation has committed to providing thru-bus service from Iowa City to the Quad-Cities as a connection for Amtrak customers along the Chicago route, increasing the viability of this service and its potential customers. Such a service would benefit our economy, tourism, businesses, and local colleges.

Since 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the Illinois Department of Transportation $177 million in High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program grants to bring rail service from Chicago to the Quad-Cities. This project was initially scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, restoring service between these areas for the first time since 1978. Under the previous administration, the state authorized $78 million in matching funds to make this important project a reality. Millions of dollars in local, state and federal funds have been used on the project to date. To continue holding up this project under review without any sort of timeline for local stakeholders is irresponsible.

With this in mind, I respectfully request that you give the people of Illinois a timeline on which you will complete your review of this project and determine whether or not to move forward.

As you know, the federal government has already provided an extension for the state to take advantage of the funds for this project. This extension expires on June 30th, 2016. For the sake of our transportation system and our economy, I hope you will not allow these funds to expire without bringing their benefits to bear in the state of Illinois.

Thank you for your consideration and response to this important matter. I look forward to working with you to make this and other critical transportation projects throughout the state a reality.

Sincerely,

Cheri Bustos

Member of Congress