8.8.09

TONIGHT'S PASSENGER RAILROAD DEVELOPMENTS. Trains for America found a WTTW Chicago Tonight report on recent developments in high-speed rail.



The opening footage of the story shows the 1937 Hiawatha (look closely at the Tip Top Tap car behind the One-Spot). The main body features interviews with assorted public officials and dissenters.

Closer to home, Genoa City Administrator Joe Misurelli is drawing Thunen rings.

On Misurelli’s map, the circles are drawn in a radius of 10 and 12 miles around one of the two proposed stops in Rockford – the route will include two Rockford stops no matter which route is chosen – and the other is around the proposed Genoa and Belvidere stations.

The circle around the Belvidere stop overlaps the Rockford stop by about half – meaning people in communities like Cherry Valley and Irene are within 10 miles of both stations.

But when the second circle is centered over Genoa, residents from Genoa, Kingston, Kirkland, Hampshire, Burlington, Sycamore, DeKalb and Cortland are all within 10 miles of an Amtrak station. None of those communities is within 10 miles of the Belvidere station.

When the center of the circle is moved from Belvidere to Genoa, the only community that loses its 10-mile link to Amtrak is Poplar Grove – a town with a population of less than 2,000. The Belvidere route means that DeKalb, a city of nearly 50,000 people, would be more than 25 miles from an Amtrak station while residents of Timberlane, population 735, will have a choice of three nearby stations.

Having the line come through Genoa would fully serve Rockford and Belvidere, Misurelli said, while also picking up Sycamore, DeKalb and Northern Illinois University.

One train a day, morning-eastward, evening-outward, is unlikely to be much help for Northern Illinois University traffic. The Genoa Chamber of Commerce has created a domain called Blackhawk Express Direct Route to make the case for the routing via Genoa, the line that hosted Amtrak's Black Hawk until 1982 and at one time featured the Land O'Corn and the Hawkeye to points further west.

As far as Northern Illinois University is concerned, the Direct Route is the Overland Route. That, however, is not a serious option for a train aimed at the North West Frontier.

The wrangling over routing is necessary, although it's likely to delay startups for either the Dubuque service or the Madison service.

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