Oswego Commuter Rail Station 'Fallen Off Metra's Radar'
Jun 23, 2015 09:02PM ● Published by Steven Jack
With a new Village President taking office in May, Oswego is renewing its effort to bring a Metra stop to the village.
Village and Metra officials have wrestled with proposed commuter rail service for Oswego for about 15 years with little progress. Village President Gail Johnson said Tuesday the village will work in the next month to develop a strategy to make a Metra stop a top priority for the agency.
"We've heard a stop here referred to as 'the train to nowhere,'" Johnson said of a BNSF station near Orchard and Mill roads. "That's just not true. Kendall County has a population of about 120,000 residents (and continues to grow). ... Somehow we have just fallen off Metra's radar. We need to restart those conversations, and we need to make sure there is a strategy in place.”
Most recently the village acquired 15 acres of land needed for the station near Orchard and Mill. Last year Metra approved another $557,000 to continue more studies for Kendall County service, including potential stops in Montgomery, Yorkville and Plano.
The latest study is on top of about $2.5 million in studies that have been conducted since a 2003 $7.5 million federal funding earmark secured by now-indicted former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.
Johnson said since taking office she has been in contact with leaders from Yorkville, Montgomery and Plano to begin discussing how to get a Kendall County stop on Metra’s priority list. She said those discussions are the first step in forming a formal local task force by the the end of 2015.
“This is such an important issue in Oswego,” Johnson said. “As the biggest municipality in Kendall County, we have to drive it.”
As for Metra's plans for Kendall County, Board Chairman Martin Oberman told the Daily Herald earlier this month that he plans to schedule a meeting to discuss Kendall County.
“I do think people of Kendall County have a right to be heard,” Oberman told the Herald.“We are going to examine this and try to figure out what makes sense and what is worth doing. Before we spend any more money, we will examine it.”
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to a Kendall County Metra stop has been the fact that the county is not a member of the Regional Transportation Authority.
If a Metra station were to be built in Oswego or anywhere in Kendall County, a countywide sales tax increase referendum likely would need to be passed to join the RTA. However, reports from last year said many local elected officials believe a financial deal could be arranged so that Kendall County would not need to join the RTA.