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Proposed funding cuts could create a bumpy ride for Moline’s passenger rail return

MOLINE – With passenger rail service slated to return to the Quad Cities in 2018, cuts to Amtrak announced in President Donald Trump's proposed budget have officials here concerned about that project's future. While most cuts appear to be geared toward longer national routes, until more specific details emerge, officials must operate under a fair amount of uncertainty.

Under Trump's federal budget proposal, overall Amtrak funds would be cut by $2.4 billion, or 13-percent.

The document also states the budget would help the Transportation Department focus on "vital federal safety oversight functions and investing in nationally and regionally significant transportation infrastructure projects."

This comes right as the Quad City area is expected to have passenger retail service returned.

Moline officials learned final track construction would begin in January 2017, with a price tag of $177 million in federal funding. The budget calls for cutting federal support for Amtrak’s long distance services.

According to Progressive Railroading, point-to-point trains like The Q, Saluki, Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg would be safe from cuts but cross country trains would take a hit.

Those are the trains that pick up and drop off passengers in Chicago and Galesburg.

The Q is expected to have a multi-modal station and hotel located in downtown Moline. The $35 million project includes a lot of coordination with construction and funding. Developers anticipated the passenger rail’s return to grow the area.

"It has 20,000 square feet for restaurants and other retail which really could be a stand-alone development waiting for the train to come," said Ray Forsythe, Moline’s planning and development director.

Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer, Wick Moorman, said “eliminating funding for long distance routes could impact more than 500 communities.”

No word on if the cuts could impact construction going on currently.