Kendall County Metra Study Gets Under Way
Jun 20, 2016 06:04PM ● Published by Shannon Antinori
The Village of Oswego already has land set aside for a future Metra station -- now, a study is under way that could make it a reality.
“I know Metra rail will come to Oswego, but I can’t tell you when,” Village President Gail Johnson said.
That will depend on securing funding for the estimated $200 million project. In the meantime, a study that stalled several years ago is back on track.
Last Thursday, Johnson and village staff joined with Metra officials at a meeting to kick off a federally funded study intended to be the first step toward a proposed extension that would bring BNSF service past Aurora to Oswego, Montgomery, Yorkville and possibly Plano and Sandwich.
In May, the Metra Board of Directors authorized restarting and completing environmental and engineering studies for the project. The studies are already funded by $7.5 million in federal dollars.
“The beauty is that the funding is already there for the study,” Johnson said Monday. The study will include working with BNSF railway to determine the environmental impact of extending service, as well as looking at feasibility, estimated ridership and the costs of sustaining the service.
The study will take an estimated two years to complete, according to Johnson.
Once the study is completed, officials will focus on funding for the estimated $200 million project, along with partnering with the Regional Transportation Authority to bring service to Kendall County, according to the Village of Oswego.
One caveat is that the project itself will only be eligible for federal transportation funding if the state has a budget in place. Currently, just two weeks away from the start of a new fiscal year, state legislators have yet to come to a budget agreement. The impasse has reached an “absolute crisis phase,” according to Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Johnson said she believes the Oswego Metra station will become a reality and that funding the project is possible.
“Because this is a long-term project, I’m optimistic,” she said. “By the time this is done, we will be in another election cycle,” possibly with new state leadership, Johnson added.
Johnson is a longtime proponent of bringing Metra service to Oswego, saying the village has demonstrated a need for rail service. In February, she appeared before the Metra board to push for an Oswego station. The village has set aside 15 acres near Orchard and Mill roads for a potential Metra station.