There has been interest in extending commuter rail service into Kendall County for many years, to serve the growing population and travel demand in the area. In response, the Kendall Extension Study was initiated to study the feasibility of extending the BNSF commuter rail line beyond its existing terminus in Aurora, Illinois. This study is funded through previously secured federal earmarked funds that are only eligible for use on this effort. It is examining new outlying yard locations in addition to new commuter rail stations at Montgomery, Oswego, Yorkville, Plano and Sandwich, Illinois.
This study is conducting an analysis of the following: station site options and designs, potential environmental impacts, projected ridership, conceptual station and infrastructure designs, costs, funding options. The results of this analysis will provide information to local municipalities and governments so they can make decisions about how to proceed. New local funding will be needed to design, construct, operate and maintain the extension. It is also important to note that extending commuter rail service to Kendall County, beyond the 6-county Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) service area, would require approval from BNSF, RTA and Metra. It may also require potential changes in state law.
This study includes a robust public involvement process intended to inform community members of study progress and findings, enhance project team understanding of community transportation use and potential ridership, and assess community attitudes and preferences regarding the extension.
The first round of Open Houses was held in December 2019. The open houses provided an opportunity for the public to learn about the overall project, including the study elements and station site options and to pose questions to project staff.
The final Open House was held virtually on Wednesday March 10, 2021 through Zoom’s virtual platform. The Virtual Open House included a presentation to update the public on the study’s progress including the environmental report, projected ridership, the station and yard designs, costs, and funding options. Following an opening presentation, participants were given the option to join breakout rooms about specific study topics and to participate in Q&A sessions by submitting questions in writing through Zoom’s chat feature, which were answered live by the project team.
Materials from the Kendall Extension Virtual Public Open House are below:
The opening slides from the meeting are available here and the opening presentation with narration is here.
The meeting also included breakout rooms with presentations for the following:
Breakout Room 1: Environmental and Ridership
Breakout Room 2: Infrastructure and Yards
Breakout Room 3: Stations: Montgomery and Oswego
Breakout Room 4: Stations: Yorkville, Plano and Sandwich
Breakout Room 5: Costs and Funding
Breakout Room 6: Media
Two round trip trains per weekday
|Four round trip trains per weekday||Six round trip trains per weekday|
Extend Train Service to Montgomery, Oswego and Yorkville (Y)
Extend Train Service to Montgomery, Oswego, Yorkville and Plano (P)
Extend Train Service to Montgomery, Oswego, Yorkville, Plano and Sandwich (S)
Station Location Options
Five new stations are being considered through the Kendall Extension Study’s examination of environmental impacts, ridership, station and yard designs, costs and funding options:
This study examined station location options for these five communities at earlier stages and is currently developing conceptual engineering plans. Conceptual Engineering plans also include the required infrastructure.
A benefit cost analysis was conducted to determine the alternatives that are most cost-effective and maximize economic and environmental benefits. The analysis was based on data collected from the preliminary design, the environmental report, and the projected ridership.
It is estimated that this project will cost approximately $400 million to $700 million to construct the extension stations and required yard and infrastructure improvements. An additional $6 to $14 million annually would be needed for operations and maintenance of the extension. The costs vary for each Alternative based on the number of train stations and the level of train service.
A ridership analysis has been conducted as part of this study to estimate the total projected ridership of the extension and the ridership at each potential station. The analysis also evaluates the potential ridership impacts on existing riders and stations. The analysis includes two population growth rates: CMAP’s baseline population growth rate and a higher level of population growth consistent with recent trends in Kendall County.
An environmental report has been conducted that discusses the potential environmental impacts of each station option, train yard, track improvement and infrastructure needs.