The Peoria City Council will contribute up to $100,000 toward federal passenger rail grant applications over the next few months.
The council approved a budget amendment approving the expenditure, with only General Counsel John Kelly dissenting.
City Manager Patrick Urich said there appear to be several ways to get a slice of the $66 billion available in rail funds from last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“We thought there was only one, then last week the Federal Rail (road) Administration released a second funding opportunity that allows us to follow two paths to try to secure funding for a service development plan,” Urich said.
The Consolidated Railroad Infrastructure and Safety Improvement Grant Program provides $150 million for projects across the United States. Applications must be submitted by December 1. The second opportunity is the Corridor Identification and Development Program. The application period for this grant is expected to open later this year.
“What the Federal Rail Administration is trying to do is put routes like Peoria, the route we’re advocating, into the pipeline of potential new rail services that would start across the United States,” Urich said. .
The city shares filing costs with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, Peoria County and northern Illinois communities on the proposed rail route. The city’s rail task force is also asking the Illinois Department of Transportation to contribute unspent rail pledge funds to the application, which can cost up to $250,000.
If the proposed Peoria-Chicago rail route is accepted, the Federal Railroad Administration would cover 80% of the costs of a service development plan.
Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood of Peoria is on the rail task force. He said the impact of an Amtrak station goes far beyond just transportation.
“There will be businesses springing up and that will mean jobs. Building this infrastructure will mean jobs. It is an investment. This is a once-in-a-lifetime economic development opportunity. said.
LaHood previously said the project could take up to 10 years to materialize, if approved.