BELVIDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — Belvidere residents got a preview Wednesday night of what a new passenger rail station in the city could look like.
The Region 1 Planning Council and the City of Belvidere offered the public forum, showing pictures and detailed plans for the project at the meeting. City leaders said that the last train passed through Belvidere in 1972.
After years of talks about a rail station returning, it may finally come to fruition.
“At the last rail meeting I was at 15 years ago, I saw John Funderburg raise his hand and say, ‘who’s even going to ride this thing,’” one resident said.
Residents showed up to Town Hall to hear plans for the potential train depot. Passenger trains would travel from Rockford to Chicago, with a stop in “The City of Murals.”
Belvidere Mayor Clinton Morris hopes that the location picked for the site will bring an economic boost.
“In the past we had a selected site with [the] City of Belvidere here across from city hall downtown,” Morris said. “I felt that would be the best way to serve our downtown businesses, with increased foot traffic and potential for new customers. I still think that’s the best thing.”
As far as funding for the project, Morris said that the Illinois Department of Transportation will foot the bill. Morris had something to say when asked if it would cost taxpayers any money.
“That’s part of the riddle that hasn’t been solved yet,” he said. Obviously, it depends on ridership and who then is selected to be the carrier. There’s still a lot out there that hasn’t been determined.”
The State will choose the carrier, which is between Amtrak and Metra. A ridership study will be conducted to see how much of a need there is for a passenger rail, according to Morris. The City will then wait for more answers from IDOT.
“This is the closest I think we’ve had with funding, partnerships, and we’ll have to see how it plays out. It’ll be interesting,” Morris said. “While I’m optimistic, I’m also realistic.”
Morris added that he believes the topic popped back up as a result of elections.