Quad Cities Chamber Director of Government Affairs Tyler Power testified in front of an Illinois Senate sub-committee hearing on state infrastructure needs in Peoria on Monday, April 8, re-affirming the Chamber’s support for passenger rail service from the Quad Cites to Chicago.
“The number one infrastructure priority for the Chamber is restoring passenger rail service between the Quad Cities and Chicago. The Chamber believes passenger rail is a good investment, and it will have a transformative impact on our economy,” Power testified. “It’s no secret that we rely on Chicago’s global reach, for business, tourism, and quality of life. We need to keep finding ways to bring these people to the Quad Cities to support our area businesses.”
A study conducted by Visit Quad Cities revealed that 60% of area tourists are from the Chicagoland area with 98% of those visitors driving to the Quad Cities and staying in area hotels. The average household income for those visitors was $150,000 annually.
The passenger rail project is projected to have a $25 million annual economic impact once service begins as well as to bring 550-825 permanent jobs to the Quad Cities as a result. This equates to an estimated $11-$16 million increase in household income across the region.
The U.S. Dept. of Transportation already has committed $177 million in federal funds to bring the Quad Cities to Chicago passenger rail line. That funding will cover upgrades to the Iowa Interstate Railroad and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks between the Quad Cities and Chicago, as well as the key interconnect that needs to be constructed between these two rail lines. However, without action from the state to begin project construction, the federal funding commitments could be withdrawn.
“Through the concentrated work of our federal and state elected officials, the Quad Cities Passenger Rail Coalition, the City of Moline, MetroLINK and multiple regional partners, we have collectively secured the federal funds for upgrades,” Power said. “The State of Illinois has continually given these projects their commitments in order to secure the federal funding. The federal government has continued to give extensions on this funding, but time is running out.”
The City of Moline already has the infrastructure in place to host passenger rail service in the new state-of-the-art Element Hotel and The Q, which opened in February 2018 in downtown Moline. Testimony from the hearing will be used as input for any upcoming capital infrastructure legislation.
“We want to thank Senator Neil Anderson for his leadership on this initiative, as well as Representatives Halpin and McCombie for being steadfast supporters of this project,” Power concluded. “Our businesses, and our community, are hungry for passenger rail service to be restored in the Quad Cities.”
About the Chamber: The Quad Cities Chamber is a champion for business and community growth in the region. The Chamber represents more than 1,600 members in the Quad Cities bi-state region of Iowa and Illinois.