The Racine Common Council Tuesday should approve a $30,000 commuter rail study for extending the Metra line from Kenosha into Racine.

Mayor John Dickert told the Redevelopment Authority last week that the extension is vital for the redevelopment of the State Street corridor where the line would end and the city in general, a story in The Journal Times reads.

“Our largest resource for investors, jobs, and personnel who can be housed up here is in Chicago,” he is quoted as saying. “It is easier for us to get the train to come up nine miles than it is to try and sell the whole (thing) up to Milwaukee.”

The controversial KRM commuter rail project was trashed in 2011 after years of studies and public hearings, and the new study would use the KRM data to determine the cost of bringing Metra to Racine, the story continues. Funding would come from the intergovernmental revenue sharing from the sewer agreement between Racine and communities east of I-94.

We think alderpersons should okay the money for the study and here’s why:

Recent studies cited at and in The Washington Post suggest a growing number of workers between the ages of 18 and 29 are delaying car ownership and obtaining a driver’s license for reasons that include the expense of owning a car and the desire to live and work in urban areas with mass transit.

If our region is going to grow by attracting young families with family supporting jobs, we’re going to have to offer more than one primary way to get to work. More, if we want students who go after four-year degrees and beyond to bring their knowledge and experience back to the greater-Racine area to raise their families, we’re going to have to up our commuter transit game; especially for those young people who attend college in even moderately sized communities with better public transportation than we offer here.

Former Belle Urban System Director Al Stanek told Racine County Eye that only one in seven adults in the city owns a car, and that should matter not only to the Common Council but also to state lawmakers who may have to make a decision about this issue in the next couple of years. We hear a lot about people who “should just get a job,” but BUS schedules are getting more sporadic, not less, and neighboring communities are constantly discussing at budget time whether they should contribute to the cost of the BUS.

Sturtevant decided last month at a committee meeting to include BUS payments in the village’s 2016 budget but not in 2017. Several trustees over the last few years have expressed frustration that not enough village residents ride the bus, but that negates the need for a BUS line through Sturtevant along Highway 20 to the businesses in the Renaissance Business Park.

The greater Racine area is behind in commuter transit, no matter if we’re talking about the bus or the train, and it’s time we get on board and on track or the redevelopment we need is going to remain just beyond our reach.

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