The Quad Cities are finally getting their long-awaited Amtrak service. And taxpayers are getting the bill.
It's going to cost Illinois taxpayers $85 million to start, and $12 million a year to run, Amtrak train service to the Quad Cities. The federal government is spending $177 million dollars as well. Quad Cities leaders and lawmakers have pressed for years to get Chicago-to-Moline train service. They secured a $177 million federal grant in 2010 to make it happen.
This week the state agreed to spend $85 million on the project. But Moline Mayor Scott Raes said that money is contingent upon a state budget. "We've got the people on board. It's just the state of Illinois is not in the greatest of shape."
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Raes said there will be plenty of riders. He said the Quad Cities – Moline and Rock Island, Ill., and Bettendorf and Davenport, Iowa – have nearly 400,000 residents and a number of local colleges.
"Not only the Quad Cities," state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, said. "If the governor of Iowa ever gets his head out of you know where. The original plan was to extend it to Iowa City." Verschoore said a lot of Illinois students attend the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
Illinois taxpayers cover much of the cost of Amtrak service in the state. In the budget for fiscal year 2015, Illinois paid $42 million in subsidies for train service from Chicago to St. Louis, Chicago to Carbondale, and Chicago to Quincy.