Illinois Kills Hiawatha Expansion

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Illinois governor kills $195 million plan to expand service between Milwaukee and Chicago.

[Below is a summary of the Urban Milwaukee article]

The administration of newly-elected Illinois Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker has killed a plan to expand Amtrak Hiawatha service between Chicago and Milwaukee from seven to 10 daily roundtrips.

The Illinois Department of Transportation’s acting secretary Omer Osman told two Illinois state senators that the $195 million plan it had jointly engineered with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation(WisDOT) would not be happening. “IDOT will not agree to the freight train holding tracks in either Glenview or Lake Forest, and you have my commitment that IDOT will not be moving forward seeking federal support for this project,” said Osman in a letter dated May 2nd.

WisDOT announced in March that the line had record ridership in 2018, with 858,000 riders representing a 3.6 percent increase over 2017 ridership. Ridership has doubled since 2003. The train, which runs between Milwaukee and Chicago with stops at General Mitchell International Airport, Sturtevant and Glenview, is the busiest passenger train line in the Midwest and one of the 10 busiest routes in the Amtrak system.

Pritzker’s move comes after Chicago-suburb Glenview (population 44,692) had approved spending more than $500,000 for lobbying against the proposal and potential litigation and marketing.

Read the full article here.

Gary Ricke