Quincy Lost a Great Opportunity For a Downtown Train Station
Quincy’s Plan Commission unanimously approved a draft copy of an updated Regional Transportation Plan earlier this week. The plan points out 28 different transportation-related projects and will now make its way to the Quincy City Council for approval.
The projects range from bike lanes, to traffic signals, to changing one-way streets to two-way thoroughfares among others things. What the plan will not have in it is an effort to build a new downtown Amtrak train station. It was suggested that that proposal should be left out for now.
Chris Beard headed up the consulting group for the Plan Commission. He is the director of traffic and transportation planning with the Lochmueller Consultants Group. Regarding a new Downtown Amtrak Station for Quincy, Beard in a Herald Whig story said, "It is a pretty costly and challenging proposition relative to the benefit it would provide. We recommend to just hit pause until we can get some more research about this."
Unfortunately this idea has been on pause for way too many years and it never should have been.
With the pandemic lingering on, Quincy has seen Amtrak cut back their service from two daily trains to Chicago to one. That one is the Illinois Zephyr. The hope is the Carl Sandburg Train will return at a future date. When the Amtrak train arrives or departs Quincy it does so from the station at 30th and Wisman Lane.
It has been my belief that the Amtrak service, provided the Carl Sandburg returns, should operate from a new station located on the Quincy Riverfront. Being downtown would provide people with access to hotels, restaurants and shopping in “The District”. The District could and should find a way to provide transportation to The District area from the riverfront daily.
So if you are traveling to Quincy on Amtrak today you will arrive in Quincy’s northern industrial section of town and nowhere near downtown… not even walking distance either. Hopefully, you have a ride lined up. The city doesn’t even provide bus service to or from the train station.
This is by no means a new idea, as former Mayor John Spring a few years ago brought up the idea to build a train station downtown while he was in office and he basically had it paid for as well. So what happened you ask?
Well, according to former Mayor Spring, he secured $13 million in 2010 to build a station downtown, but in order to get the grant money the city had to fund a feasibility study that would cost $35 thousand. So let me do the math. We get $13 million and spend $35 thousand to get it done.
That sounded reasonable to me then and it would sound reasonable to me today if it would be available to the city again. Unfortunately, the Quincy City Council in 2010 voted no by a vote of 8 to 6… so the potential project died.
Having Amtrak stop downtown makes all the sense in the world to me. The City of Quincy has lost 10 years of downtown visitors and 10 years is too long. A downtown train station is needed and should be a priority in future planning. Talk about a lost opportunity!