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Peoria leaders look to residents for thoughts on Amtrak addition

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 6:54 PM CST
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Decades have passed since trains took people to and from Peoria. Now, city leaders want to know what you think about bringing that option back.

The last passenger rail service in Peoria was the Rock Island line in 1978, next to what is now Constitution Garden. Amtrak also provided service in East Peoria until 1981. Many of the old stations and lines have been re-purposed. Now, the River City wants to hear residents’ thoughts on the potential return to rail.

Tuesday morning, officials gathered at City Hall to update the public on a passenger rail proposal. It would take travelers up through LaSalle-Peru and Ottawa, then over to Morris and Joliet before reaching Chicago. But they want to hear from residents before making a final decision.

Across Peoria, posters with a QR code take you to a ten-question survey on the idea. For committee members working on it, it’s a chance for the city to grow.

“When you really think what rail can bring to our community, it not only makes sense, it really means dollars for our community,” says council member at-large Sid Ruckriegel.

The opportunities from the project are beyond just another way to travel north.

“I look forward to the time when Peoria can once again be a hub and a destination for business, for visitors, and for an economic boom,” says Joshua Gunn, the President of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce.

The plan has a lot of backing already. State and federal lawmakers, county officials, and IDOT are just a few of the groups collaborating to make the project happen. The Tri-County Planning Commission is just one of those groups. Executive Director Eric Miller sees it as a chance to provide more options for travelers.

“The Peoria region in the largest metropolitan area without Amtrak service,” he says, “and has been that way for a long, long time.”

Amtrak tells us they look forward to working with the city to explore ways to bring passenger rail service back.

“We are committed, we are moving forward with a strong effort,” says Peoria Mayor Rita Ali.

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