Several northern Illinois cities are eager for the return of passenger rail service across parts of the region. But one community is still absorbing the shock of being left out of the planned route.
Last week, Governor Pat Quinn announced that the long-awaited return of Amtrak service from Chicago to Rockford would happen sometime next year. The planned route includes stops in between the two cities. And there's still the possibility of stops beyond Rockford by having trains going to Dubuque, Iowa.
But when the governor made his announcement, there was a major twist. The city of Genoa was left off the list of planned stops and was replaced with Belvidere. Those two cities had competed for a stop under previous plans, with Genoa winning out.
Those plans for the service had stalled. But community development consultant Joe Misurelli says they were still caught off guard when the governor announced the revised route. He says they still felt they were part of the mix.
"Our Chamber of Commerce, our Main Street organization, numerous people throughout the community were excited. They spent tons of time sending out letters, indicating support for the service," Misurelli said.
Misurelli also says it's not a plus when taking into account Genoa's economic plans for the future. But he says they're still encouraged by some of the things happening downtown. He says they don't know yet how they might respond to the state's decision.
State transportation officials say Genoa was the preferred route. Earlier studies even indicated it was best course of action for the project. But negotiations with the track's operator, Canadian National, reached an impasse, forcing IDOT to go with the alternative route.