There has been interest in extending commuter rail service into Kendall County for many years, to serve the growing population and travel demand in the area. In response, the Kendall Extension Study has been initiated to study the feasibility of extending the BNSF commuter rail line beyond its existing terminus in Aurora, Illinois. This study is funded through previously secured federal earmarked funds that are only eligible for use on this effort. It will examine new outlying yard locations in addition to new commuter rail stations at Montgomery, Oswego, Yorkville, Plano and Sandwich, Illinois.
This study will conduct an analysis of the following: station site options, potential environmental impacts, ridership study/impacts and costs/funding considerations. The results of this analysis will provide information to local municipalities and governments so they can make decisions about how to proceed. New local funding will be needed to design, construct, operate and maintain the extension. It is also important to note that extending commuter rail service to Kendall County beyond the 6-county Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) service area would require approval from BNSF, RTA and Metra. It may also require potential changes in state law.
This study will include a robust public involvement process intended to inform community members of study progress and findings, enhance project team understanding of community transportation use and potential ridership, and assess community attitudes and preferences regarding the extension.
The first round of open house was held in December. The open houses provided an opportunity for the public to learn about the overall project, including the study elements and station location options, and pose questions to project staff.
Materials presented at the Kendall Extension Public Open Houses are below:
Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey. More than 2,100 people shared their opinions about the study in the survey.
Station Location Options
Five new stations will be considered through the Kendall Extension Study’s examination of ridership, cost/benefits and environmental impacts:
This study will examine station location options for these five communities and develop conceptual engineering plans at 30 percent level of design.
A cost-benefit analysis will be conducted to determine the alternatives that are most cost-effective and maximize economic and environmental benefits. The analysis will be based on data collected from the preliminary design work, the environmental review and the anticipated travel demand. It will include financial data analyses, cost estimates and detailed evaluations of station alternatives.
Initial estimates indicate it would cost approximately $400 million to $500 million to construct the extension and stations. An additional $5 million annually would be needed for operations and maintenance. These projections are based on initial estimates and will be refined as part of this study.
A ridership analysis will be conducted as part of this study to estimate the total ridership of the extension and the ridership at each potential station. The analysis will also evaluate potential impacts on existing riders and stations.
An environmental review will be conducted to evaluate and document potential environmental impacts of the station options, train yard and track infrastructure needs.