Peoria is the biggest city in the state without passenger rail service. That's a situation the Tri-County Regional Planning Commision wants to change. The group came up with a nine-stop corridor between Peoria and Normal last year as part of a federaly funded feasability study. Now the group wants to secure more federal money for enviromental and engineering studies. The Mayors of Normal and Peoria are going to Washington next week to talk with Peoria native, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to secure that funding. Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis says getting the money is vital to bringing passenger rail to town:
"Unfortunately the city and state aren't in positions to fund that work and if there's discretionary funding within transportation that could help us get that done, that's why we're going out to DC with our hat in our hands."
Tri-County officials say they plan to meet with LaHood and his staff to make their case for the rail project becoming part of the federal "New Starts" program. That would qualify it for discretionary funding that would pay for the next costs in the proposed passenger rail effort.
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