I didn’t see Monday’s Word on the Street column until tonight. Three days have passed but I’d like to comment anyway. Most of WOTS’s column is about local officials and politicians’ recent discussions about getting a rail link between Peoria and Bloomington, and possible changes to the plan.
But the proposal they’re talking up is a little different than the one most central Illinoisans are thinking of. Initially, this rail link was discussed simply as a spur — a line running from Peoria or thereabouts to Bloomington-Normal and perhaps connecting in with the high-speed rail line being established there now so people could change trains and get to Chicago or St. Louis.
At least Tri-County Regional Planning Commission Transportation Planner Kyle Smith acknowledge problems with this concept.
What Smith talked about Thursday wasn’t that, because early study results there from Amtrak were “less than spectacular,” Smith said.
You think? $75 million to build a dedicated, five-mile line from Norfolk Southern trackage at Bloomington through Union Pacific’s local yard to reach a point 600 feet away from Normal depot so shuttle train passengers can get guaranteed connections with Amtrak Higher Speed trains? “Less than spectacular” is being quite compassionate.
Instead, they’re now talking commuter rail, with seven stops eyed between here and the Twin Cities, terminating at a bus connection that would eventually take riders to the multimodal transportation center that serves as a stop on the high-speed Amtrak line.
Even Word on the Street sees the folly of this plan. Seven stops? A bus connection between the [East] Peoria-Bloomington commuter train and Normal’s Uptown Station (“multimodal transportation center”)? The new plan means even longer transit times and greater inconvenience. No wonder most people drive.
As I’ve written before, for practical reasons, I favor the old Prairie Marksman route used in 1980-1981. Same train, twice-daily roundtrip service to and from Chicago. Anything less, forget it.
- David P. Jordan