High-speed passenger rail service from Chicago to Omaha through central Iowa appears to be moving closer to reality. Iowa Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Jackson says a study on the service brings good news.The study by independent financial consultants shows a three thousand mile route through nine midwestern states is economically feasible. Jackson says the next step is up to lawmakers in Washington, D.C.They’re awaiting legislation in Congress that would provide start up money, but he says several states are already using state money to start portions of the system. The route through Iowa would begin in Chicago, then travel through the Quad Cities, Iowa City, Des Moines, Council Bluffs and on to Omaha.So far, Iowa has only participated by putting in planning funds, but he says they hope to soon get some federal feds to work on the engineering design of the route. Jackson is optimistic about the project finally leaving the station, as this is as far as the issue has ever gone.He says the events of September 11th may be helping move this project along.He says there’s been more talk about it recently, and one funding bill for the project is included in the Senate’s economic stimulus package. The State Transportation Commission heard a report on the high-speed rail service at their meeting Tuesday in Ames.
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