Geneseo “more optimistic than ever” about passenger rail’s return

GENESEO, Illinois -- Just a few steps from Geneseo's train tracks, a railroad-themed business, The Local Motive, serves coffee and conversations about the return of passenger rail service.

"There's a lot of chatter in here daily," said owner Beth Causemaker.  "Hey, have you heard? Where will the depot be located? How soon will it be coming?"

Geneseo will learn the latest from IDOT staffers on Friday, November 18, 2016.  They'll participate in a conference call on track renovations, plans for a station and more route details.

A quiet intersection along Oakwood Avenue is just waiting for the horn to sound.  The city is already banking money to build a station on nearby land.

Geneseo plans to hold brainstorming sessions early in 2017 to get public input and finalize plans.

For IDOT's part, there are plans to make track renovations and construction during 2017.  Following that, Geneseo becomes a stop in Amtrak's route from Chicago to Moline.

"They are looking to partner with the city of Geneseo to create a station with us," said City Administrator Lisa Kotter.

Geneseo knows about big plans, lengthy delays and patience, but this time it's feeling good about Amtrak's return.

"We are more optimistic now than ever that it's going to become a reality," said Rhonda Ludwig, director of Geneseo's Chamber of Commerce.  "That is exciting for us in Geneseo."

It's perfect timing for Causemaker, who opened The Local Motive four years ago.  Business could be even better with trains projected to stop just steps away.

"Get off the train," she said.  "Grab a coffee.  Grab a pastry and shop downtown.  Take advantage of all the awesome nearby businesses."

Her "Local Motive" is ready for the rails.