Oswego lobbies Metra to extend BNSF line to village
We're still here and we want commuter trains, Oswego leaders reminded Metra directors Wednesday
Metra's BNSF service terminates in Aurora. but plans to extend the line to Oswego have been studied since the early 2000s because of a $7.5 million federal earmark.
Village President Gail Johnson told the Metra board the town's population is steadily growing and would fill up trains. Village Administrator Danial DiSanto said "the project is not fantasy, it is not a waste of money."
The village has purchased land for a station and parking lot.
Both Johnson and DiSanto asked Metra to continue using earmark dollars for feasibility studies.
Metra Chairman Martin Oberman told the delegation he had "no interest in taking study funds away from Kendall County."
But "the problem is there are scarce resources and competition for those scarce resources," he said, adding that it could cost $300 million or more to establish service to Oswego. "The political and practical realities give me pause."
In addition, Kendall County isn't part of the six-county Regional Transit Authority that funds Metra, Pace and the CTA through a sales tax. So far there appears to be no official consensus in Kendall County on whether to join the RTA.
About $4.5 million of the earmark secured by disgraced former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert remains. Metra has committed $2.8 million for engineering studies, including a $557,000 contract with consultants in 2015.
After the Daily Herald asked last year about the expenditure given the lack of funding, Oberman said the agency would reassess the project.
In a related issue, Metra announced it would add one more outbound train on the Heritage Corridor that travels to Joliet. The line is one of Metra's smallest with just six trains a day, but limited funds have prevented expansion.
The extra train goes into service March 14 and will cost more than $315,000 a year to operate.