Oswego, Yorkville Hire Lobbyists To Help Expand Metra Service

Bob Roberts
November 14, 2018 - 8:23 pm
Metra Train

Metra train (WBBM Newsradio/Bob Roberts)

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- For years, people moving to Oswego have asked when Metra would extend service to Kendall County. And for years, they've been told it would happen soon.

Now, Oswego and Yorkville hope to make it reality.

The communities have coveted extension of Metra's BNSF line from Aurora for at least 25 years. The two communities now have agreed to jointly hire lobbyists who will look for money. 

Tuesday night's vote by the Yorkville city council was unanimous. Oswego village trustees approved the intergovernmental agreement to hire the lobbyists of Fletch, O'Brien, Kasper & Nottage by a vote of 5-1.

Oswego village administrator Dan DiSanto said the first stop will be Springfield, where he added that the opportunities in a new capital plan represent a "once in a decade opportunity."

"This has been one of our key proiorities; this capital bill will be the first one since 2010," DiSanto said.

The lobbyists also would approach the federal government, which is already providing some planning money.

The problem has always been that the communities lie just outside of the six-county RTA service area. Oswego underwrote the costs of a Pace bus route connecting the community with Aurora, but the line was discontinued in 2015. 

The RTA has always insisted that it be reimbursed for full costs of any out-of-area extension, but in the past has looked at proposals to extend service to DeKalb, Huntley and Milwaukee. All have died because of a lack of funding.

Aside from a bus terminal just over the Indiana border in Hammond, the only out-of-area RTA service has been Union Pacific North Line service to Kenosha, which it inherited when it took responsibility for the commuter rail operations of the old Chicago & North Western Ry. The short stretch of trackage in Wisconsin operates at a profit.

DiSanto said the lobbyists will pitch the idea of several Kendall County townships joining the RTA instead of the full county.