ROCKFORD, Feb. 25 — Rockford Area Economic Development Council President Michael Nicholas was among the local leaders to provide testimony in support of Amtrak service at an Illinois Senate Transportation Committee meeting today, saying “this is the right time and the right place for passenger rail.”
Former Gov. Pat Quinn proposed spending $225 million on improvements to railroad tracks linking Rockford and Belvidere and allowing Amtrak service daily to Chicago; new Gov. Bruce Rauner suspended that effort this year.
“The Chicago-Rockford Amtrak initiative has been a long-term collaborative project critical to the economic recovery of the Rockford Region,” Nicholas said.
He went on to talk about the project’s important, broad impact, from tourism to logistics and from construction to regional commerce.
“A pullback from this previous commitment would be a blow to the positive post-recession momentum the Rockford Region has worked so hard to generate over the past five years,” Nicholas said. “And it would be a blow to the collective spirit of the Rockford Region, which believes in itself and the possibilities ahead. Train service between Rockford and Chicago can’t just be talk. It needs to be real.”