New Amtrak station interrupts Huntley's dowtown makeover

HUNTLEY – Gov. Pat Quinn’s recent decision to include Huntley on a new Amtrak route creates an interesting wrinkle in the village’s downtown makeover, which could start later this year.

As Huntley officials work to improve the landscape near Route 47 and Main Street this year, they will head back to the drawing board and begin plotting a location for a future Amtrak station near, or in, the historic downtown.

Village administrators and board members will eventually have to determine which location.

“We will be taking a step back to understand if there is any type of overlap,” said Village Manager Dave Johnson. “We need to take a step back to see if [a station] fits into the downtown.”

How a train station conforms to the downtown overhaul and whether there would be enough parking spaces to accommodate the increased activity from a passenger rail line are among the considerations, Johnson said.

Village Board members this week approved a final framework for the downtown revamp, moving Huntley closer to the construction of certain projects.

Quinn included Huntley earlier this month in a $223 million plan to build a new Amtrak line that would eventually stretch from Chicago to Dubuque, Iowa. Huntley officials are waiting to meet with state transportation officials about the project timeline.

The potential late addition of an Amtrak station to the Huntley downtown makeover comes after the village began planning the downtown improvements nearly four years ago.

Officials still have planning left to do on the east side, while they look to start $2.1 million in work on the west side, near Route 47.

Work could begin later this year on beautifying the Route 47 and Main Street intersection, including a walkway on the southeast corner, Johnson said. Officials also could start adding parking near the former Sawyer-Kelley Mill and doing initial work on a new commercial building once the historic mill is demolished.

Meanwhile, they will plan ways to level the sidewalk and move the numerous overhead utility lines along Main Street, between Woodstock and Church streets.

Board members don’t yet know the costs of that work, but they should get a better sense of the price when they meet this coming week with a utility consultant.

“We don’t have the financial resources to do it all,” Johnson said of the downtown plan. “We have to make decisions to do some of it or let it sit. I think some of those decisions will be made soon.”

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