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Who will lead Kendall Metra effort? : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Who will lead Kendall Metra effort?

Supporters of efforts to extend Metra commuter rail service to Kendall County will lose their most important ally next January when State Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego, completes his tenure in the Illinois General Assembly. Cross, who has served in the General Assembly for the past 20 years, is seeking election this year as State Treasurer.

Over the past two decades, Cross and former U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert were instrumental in using their considerable political clout to launch the effort to extend Metra service. While he was in Congress, Hastert secured federal funds for a Metra service engineering study that is currently underway. Cross, meanwhile, secured state grants to help the village pay to operate its Metra Park-n-Ride facility after it opened in 2004.

Later this year Metra officials are expected to release the results of their current engineering study for a Kendall County extension. The study is expected to show how Metra trains could one day be routed southwest from their current terminus in downtown Aurora along the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway mainlines track to new stations in Montgomery and Oswego.

But if Metra trains are ever going to roll down the tracks from Aurora into Kendall County, it will require real leadership not only at the local and county levels, but also in Springfield and Washington, D.C. We're wondering now if any of the state and federal lawmakers elected from Kendall County this November will be willing to attempt to follow in the footsteps of Hastert and Cross and assume a leadership role in the Metra station effort. Given the current political landscape we have our doubts.

As we've noted here before, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and his minions carved up Kendall County into four State House, four State Senate and two Congressional districts as part of the 2002 re-drawing of legislative districts. The sheer number of lawmakers that now represent Kendall County will certainly further complicate efforts to build consensus on Metra service either locally or at the state or federal levels. Meanwhile, there's a good chance that lawmakers from those more politically diverse districts may not want to take on a thorny issue like how to pay to extend Metra service.

The need for consensus and leadership on the Metra extension effort in the years ahead cannot be understated. If the effort is to eventually succeed it will require a concerted effort by elected officials at all levels of government with support from area residents.

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