Metra study: Passenger rail service would prove paramount in DeKalb


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DeKalb could see a Metra train line and station in the future.

DeKALB – NIU might not be the largest university in the state without a passenger rail service for much longer, as a recent study conducted by DeKalb, NIU and Sam Schwartz Consulting suggests.

The feasibility study to extend Metra commuter rail services to the City of DeKalb has concluded its first two phases. The study showed the number of potential riders benefiting from an extension between Elburn to DeKalb. According to the study, 10,800 people commute daily between DeKalb County and the communities along the Union Pacific Line.

Potential riders of the proposed Metra line include 64% of NIU students who live in the six counties in the Chicago area and 17% of NIU employees.

“A commuter rail extension would provide these commuters with a safe, reliable option for traveling to employment, entertainment and higher education destinations, including those here in DeKalb,” said DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas in a City of DeKalb press release.

The third phase of this project will measure capital, operational costs, revenue and potential operating hours. Already known is the project will require 15 miles of third track and infrastructure upgrades. The third phase will help identify federal and state grants that can assist in the costs of construction.

Representatives between the City of DeKalb, NIU and Sam Schwartz Consulting have met every two weeks to discuss data, speak with Metra and Union Pacific representatives and gather community input.

Matt Orenchuk, a principal of Sam Schwartz Consulting, will give a presentation on the findings of these first phases in a DeKalb City Council meeting. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday at the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St.