PEORIA, Ill-- Last week, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin met to discuss the future of transportation in Illinois, specifically connecting the Peoria area to Bloomington by high-speed rail.
"Connecting Peoria with the high speed rail hub in Bloomington-Normal is an investment in the future of Central Illinois that will give residents and visitors access to travel and business opportunities throughout Illinois," Durbin said.
The Amtrak station in Normal is the busiest in Illinois outside of Chicago and a considerable amount of that ridership is from the Peoria area.
According to the Economic Development Council of Central Illinois, more than 7,500 people travel between the Peoria area and Bloomington-Normal from work on a daily basis. It has been estimated that over 95 percent of these commuters travel alone in a single-occupancy vehicle.
A study to investigate passenger rail options is the first step to better connecting these two hubs and reducing travel times and congestion while improving air quality in the region.
Ardis sees more than just potential work commuters from area businesses, such as Caterpillar and Mitsubishi. He says potential customers between the universities -- Bradley, ISU, and Illinois Wesleyan -- could also bring big business for Amtrak.
US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood supports the addition of his hometown to the rail system.
"It would be a mode of transportation that currently does not exist; it would be an opportunity to really connect the region," said LaHood.