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Oswego Village President Lobbies Metra Board on Finishing Studies

Feb 24, 2016 07:24PM ● By Steven Jack
Oswego Village President Gail Johnson appeared before the Metra Board Wednesday to continue to lobby for support for an eventual commuter rail stop in Oswego. 

Johnson urged Metra to complete the preliminary engineering and environmental studies for which funds have already been set aside via federal earmarks secured in the 1990s by disgraced former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. 

"As community leaders, we have an obligation to plan for the future," Johnson said "Extending Metra service to Oswego is essential to providing access to jobs, education, and healthcare for our growing population."

Johnson's appearance before the Metra Board is the latest in an ongoing effort to renew planning for an Oswego or Kendall County Metra stop. Metra Chairman Martin Oberman visited Oswego in August to discuss service to Kendall County.

At that time he said Metra's concerns around extending the BNSF to Oswego was due to the estimated $300 million price tag and the lack of a funding source. Oberman has said many costly improvements would need to be made to the existing two lines of track that run through Kendall County owned by BNSF.

Several miles of a third line of track would need to be added along with countless other infrastructure improvements and construction of stations. Despite the village of Oswego already purchasing the land for a potential station and parking lot, all that work quickly adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Oberman re-stated his funding concerns Wednesday. 

"The problem is there are scarce resources and competition for those scarce resources," Oberman said in a Daily Herald report. "The political and practical realities give me pause."

Early this year, Senator Mark Kirk, Congressman Bill Foster, every state legislator representing Oswego, Kendall County Board Chairman John Shaw and the mayors of Oswego, Montgomery, Yorkville, Plano and Sandwich sent letters to Metra and the Regional Transportation Authority asking them to complete the preliminary engineering and environmental studies. 

A group of stakeholders is expected to meet with Metra leadership and Congressman Randy Hultgren on March 5 to further discuss the project.