If you’re hoping for a Metra stop in Oswego, you’re about to have the perfect opportunity to let the rail service’s leaders know.
Metra is about to embark on its first strategic plan in decades, and they’re looking for your input. The goal of the strategic plan, according to a Metra press release, is to prioritize the agency’s spending decisions, and “use its scarce dollars in the most efficient and effective way possible.”
To that end, they’re looking for opinions on Metra’s mission, vision and goals. They’re doing this in two ways – they’ve uploaded an eight-question survey to their website, www.metrarail.com, and they’re holding public open houses throughout their service area over the next few weeks.
The closest such open house to the Fox Valley area is on July 24, at Geneva City Hall, 22 South First Street, at 7 p.m. Other meetings will be held in Chicago, Crystal Lake, Homewood, New Lenox, Glen Ellyn, Libertyville, Evanston and Riverside before July 25. Click here for a full schedule.
The online survey allows you to critique Metra’s draft mission and vision statements, and choose the most important from a list of six goals. But the most important question, according to Oswego Village Administrator Steve Jones, is the last one, which allows you to suggest projects for Metra to pursue.
That, he said, is where you can show support for a Metra stop in Oswego. Metra leaders are already gathering information on the proposal, which would extend tracks south from Aurora and place a station at the current park-and-ride location near Orchard and Mill roads.
In January, with Oswego Village President Brian LeClercq and Montgomery Village President Marilyn Michelini to inform them that a phase one engineering study on the Oswego station was in the offing. An Oswego station is still likely more than a decade away, and could cost up to $120 million. But Metra leaders say the support is there.
And Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Joe Costello has said that the RTA would be flexible with a potential sticking point for the Oswego station—namely, that Kendall County residents would have to approve joining the RTA by referendum, and agree to a three-quarters-of-a-cent sales tax increase.
Costello said the RTA provides service to several municipalities outside its membership area, and if Oswego residents find a different way to help cover the cost of a station, the RTA would work something out.
But Costello has also emphasized the need for broader, longer-term federal funding before even talking about expanding rail service in the area. The plans are there, and Metra and the RTA are on board, but funding, he said, is “always the tough nut.”
A Metra stop in Oswego would be good news for Montgomery leaders, who also hope for a station in town. Montgomery has yet to launch a park-and-ride, but there are plans for one at the Lyon Metal property on North Main Street. And, Village President Marilyn Michelini has noted, Kane County—where the station would be—is already a member of the RTA.
To take Metra’s survey, log onto www.metrarail.com. The Geneva forum on July 24 is free and open to the public.