The start of service for Amtrak's passenger rail line between Chicago and the Quad-Cities will be delayed, the Illinois Department of Transportation confirmed Wednesday.
Jae Miller, a spokeswoman for the state DOT, said in an email the segment of track owned by the Iowa Interstate Railroad between Wyanet, Ill., and Moline needs more rehabilitation for passenger service than was contemplated when the application for federal money was made in 2010.
As a result, "this additional work also means that the start of service has been delayed; a public construction and operational start-up schedule will be announced later this year," Miller said.
State officials previously said the trains would begin rolling in late 2015 but acknowledged it could change.
A top Illinois rail official was in the Quad-Cities last August and said stakeholders were meeting to determine a publishable construction and start schedule.
Nine months later, no schedule has been released, but Miller said Wednesday the decision to do the upgrades was made recently. She said the type of work to be done is yet to be determined.
The delay in the onset of passenger rail service is the latest since the Obama administration announced in late 2010 that $230 million had been awarded for a link between Chicago and Iowa City.
At one point, Illinois officials had said the service could begin in 2013.
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The project's scope also has been narrowed to include only a connection between Chicago and the Quad-Cities.
Earlier this week, Moline City Administrator Lew Steinbrecher said there have been informal discussions about the line and the potential for delays.
"I think people are wondering, since they haven’t started construction, whether it can be done by the fall of 2015," Steinbrecher said Monday.
At the presentation last August, Joe Shacter of the Illinois DOT said the hope was to begin construction on the stretch of railroad between Chicago and Wyanet last year, while upgrades on the remaining track between Wyanet and Moline were to have begun this year.
It's about 110 miles from Chicago to Wyanet and another 50-some miles between there and Moline.
Paul Rumler, a Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce executive who has been the area's top advocate for passenger rail service, said Wednesday the delay wasn't surprising. Track upgrades have been contemplated for some time now.
"It’s not to surprising that they’ve hit new issues that will take a little more time," he said. "I'm not discouraged."