While the Recreational Trail Advocates are stepping up their efforts to get the Kellar Branch rail line converted to a hiking/biking trail, there is another plan on the table that calls for keeping the rail line for passenger service.
Sharon Deckard, President of the Illinois Prairie Railroad Foundation, has put together a proposal for offering commuter and tourist trolley service along the Kellar Branch. The service would provide transportation from downtown, through shopping areas such as Junction City and Peoria Heights, and up through Pioneer Park to a proposed “park and ride” station. A trolley would be used from the Gomaco Trolley Company which builds replicas of historic trolley cars, but with modern train technology. They could build a replica of one of Peoria’s old street cars or an Illinois Traction interurban. (Of course, the new cars would be self-propelled, so no need to restring electric wires for power.)
Deckard has personally delivered her proposal to each Peoria City Council member and the Mayor of Peoria Heights. You can see her full proposal here: Trolley-Proposal-Full.pdf (warning: large file! 8.8 MB PDF).
If you don’t want to download the large PDF file, here is the main text of the proposal:
Using what we already have to benefit
TODAY and TOMORROW
All across the country cities are finding the need to go to commuter rail. This is a service that allows them to come from their suburban bedroom communities into the city to their jobs and businesses.
The stop and go commute, parking problems, fuel emissions in the air and a host of other things including the most important “time”, is causing these cities to install commuter rail. This ranges from park n rides to full length light rail through larger downtowns.
They are finding that providing this access to their cities is encouraging residents and businesses alike to relocate near these amenities.
The biggest problem in establishing this program for commuters is that they find it cost prohibitive and it takes many years to accomplish it. They have to buy the land, clear it, install the tracks and buy the equipment, as well as run it so that it is beneficial to itself and the community.
We, here in Peoria are way ahead of the game. We have the rail, in place and waiting. We have eliminated 90% of the cost before we start.
Peoria is a very unique community in that it has a complete ring road of trackage around the entire city. There are eight railroads that currently serve Peoria. This gives a foot in the door to numerous benefits for this community.