High-speed rail is topic of public forum

By Alex Davis | adavis@wcia.com

Published 06/16 2014 04:33PM

Updated 06/18 2014 11:13AM

Update: 3:55 pm, 6/17/14, Tuesday
LINCOLN -- High speed rail has been on a slow track to the state. The city of Lincoln is just one of many stops from Chicago to St. Louis. Designers with the Illinois High Speed Rail Program held a hearing Monday night, looking for public input. WCIA-3's Alex Davis finds out not everyone's on board with the idea.

The high speed rail plan is getting mixed reviews statewide, but towns getting the trains are offering an even harsher critique.

"The ultimate decision that needs to be made about some of these parameters is local."

During a public hearing Monday, city leaders and designers for IDOT discussed two design plans. One would keep all seven of the city's railroad crossings in place. The other would eliminate a crossing at Pekin Street. It's something which neighboring business owners say would impact their foot traffic.

"You know, any kind of project, big or small, there's always going to be people for and against it."

Carrie Desmond is one of the designers for the project. She's stopped in many cities and towns along the corridor to present similar plans and says opposition and debate are just part of the process.

"Our job isn't to come out and sway people one way or the other."

But, in a city where little progress can be seen, private investors, like David Lanterman, say there's no need to oppose change.

"The only people I know who are openly opposed to high speed rail, is someone who's going to have one specific thing that that person doesn't like. The community, in general, as far as I can tell, want to have better rail service."

He says, any way you look at it, high speed rail could allow for upward momentum for Lincoln and Lincoln could reinvent itself as a place to visit.

"You have to make it a destination and an attraction."

Mayor Keith Snyder agrees with Lanterman's thoughts. As a community leader, he favors closing the crossing, but on a personal level, it could impact his daily routine. It's something he says he's willing to give up for the good of others.

"It's not about me. It's not really about individual concerns. It's about what's best for the community."

The city is expected to vote on the plan next Wednesday.
Original: 4:33 pm, 6/16/14, Monday
LINCOLN -- High speed rail could be another step closer to traveling through Central Illinois. The city of Lincoln will hold a public forum Monday night about its latest plan to restore the historic Lincoln Depot and close a railroad crossing.

The city is working with architects and engineers from the state Department of Transportation. Funding for the project will come, in part, from the federal government.

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