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News

Amtrak line could stop in Genoa

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced plans Wednesday for a new Amtrak route that could include a stop in or around Genoa on its way from Chicago through Rockford and ending in Dubuque, Iowa. State legislators will meet today to discuss adding money to the 2007-08 budget to cover the cost of updating the Blackhawk rail line, according to Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. The line, closed by the state in 1981, is an old Canadian National route that runs through Genoa. However, there is not a suitable structure to house a train stop in the city. &#8220There is a small wooden building on the CN track in Genoa, but it probably wouldn't be suitable,” said Magliari. &#8220If people locally can build a stop, meaning the city or county, we can go from there.” Magliari said there are still many factors that must be put into place before the train route can become a reality - the main one being funding. According to Amtrak officials, updating the CN line from Chicago to Dubuque would cost around $32 million dollars. The state also would have to set aside money to operate the train until it generates enough revenue to support itself. &#8220Service won't be starting tomorrow,” Magliari said. &#8220But it is quite possible the northwest area of Illinois could have rail service in 2008 or 2009.” If the new line stops in Genoa, it will be the first time the area had a passenger train stop since before 1971, according to Magliari. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin held a town meeting last July in Rockford to measure the desire for a passenger train in the area. Government officials, include state Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley, representatives from IDOT and Amtrak, as well as labor and community leaders from DeKalb, Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson, Jo Daviess and Ogle counties attended the meeting. Since then other meetings have been held, including one held two months ago in Rockford when the possibility of a Genoa stop was first discussed. &#8220A lot of communities in the county would like to see this happen,” said Pritchard. &#8220Many factors weigh in on a decision such as this and cost is most likely one of them.” Genoa City Administrator Joe Misurelli said city officials have not yet discussed building a station since the state's decision to open service on the CN line just came out on Wednesday. &#8220It's going to take time, but it would be a good opportunity for people out here,” said Misurelli. &#8220My understanding is that Northern Illinois University is one of the only major universities in the state without that type of commuter system. It's very positive that the state selected the CN line.” Benji Feldheim can be reached at bfeldheim@daily-chronicle.com.

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