Amtrak’s Hiawatha Expansion has been put on hold indefinitely

Amtrak’s Hiawatha Expansion has been put on hold indefinitely

Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said his department was sensitive to the concerns of stakeholders along the tracks between Chicago and Milwaukee. In his Sept. 6 letter to Lansing, he said IDOT was committed to safe and efficient travel options while also responding to concerns of affected communities. He said he would continue to work with the project team to make sure the “many valid questions” that have been raised are answered.

Blankenhorn also said IDOT would prepare a visualization of current and future train movements to allow the community to “better understand and see the impacts of what is being proposed.”

Lake Forest Mayor Rob Lansing said the department’s decision appeared to delay the release of an environmental assessment “for the foreseeable future.” He said he expected Blankenhorn to hold public hearings to discuss concerns about the project, and the idea of a third main track appeared moribund.

“The combination of Metra’s opposition to a third main for at least a few decades, and IDOT now stepping back from approving an [environmental assessment] for the foreseeable future, effectively defers such a project being approved for a very long time, if ever,” Lansing said, in response to Blankenhorn’s letter.

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