Quad-City supporters of a passenger rail connection between Chicago and Moline said this week that they’re confident the project is moving forward.
Construction on the multi-modal station in downtown Moline is on track for completion this summer, officials say, but it's not clear yet how close a deal is between the Iowa Interstate Railroad and the state of Illinois to design improvements to the track between Wyanet, Illinois, and Moline.
The 53 miles of track between the two cities requires the most work to accommodate passenger traffic between Chicago and Moline.
Jeff Nelson, the general manager for MetroLINK, said Thursday he was on a conference call with the Illinois DOT earlier this week and understood that an agreement between the state and the railroad for design and environmental work, while not signed by both sides, had been agreed to.
However, spokesman for the Illinois DOT said Friday there is no completed memorandum of understanding yet. In an email, Guy Tridgell, the DOT spokesman, said the state still is "working toward" an agreement that would allow the railroad to be reimbursed for costs associated with planning for the project.
"Once the memorandum of understanding is completed, we will continue negotiations with the railroad on a final agreement that would allow passenger trains between Wyanet and Moline," Tridgell said.
The connection between Chicago and Moline has been in the development stage for years — the $177 million for the link was awarded by the Obama administration in late 2010.
Quad-City officials are confident that the connection is moving forward. Henry Marquard, director of government relations at the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, said earlier this week he was confident another extension won't be needed on the 2010 federal grant. Last year, the state had to seek an extension from the Federal Railroad Administration.
Nelson said Friday that he remains confident, even as the state says it has not yet completed a deal with the Iowa Interstate railroad. Nelson said work on the multi-modal station is progressing. He said he expects the $10 million federal grant for the station in downtown Moline, which is where the train will board and disembark passengers, will be spent this summer and that work will be completed in July.
The station is part of “The Q” development, which will include a $35 million, 96-room Element hotel under development by the Amin Group at the O’Rourke Building at 4th Avenue and 12th Street. The development also includes retail and entertainment space.
The hotel is currently under construction. It is scheduled to open in September, said Janet Mathis, the CEO/President of Renew Moline.