A report this week concluded that the busy Cedar-and-Iowa-River region could support a commuter railroad system.

The study looked at light rail service between the Amanas, Cedar Rapids — including the airport — and Iowa City. Josh Shamberger, head of the Iowa City Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the next step is to ask each town along the route about its needs. According to Shamberger, people in Johnson County have a “strong interest” in some kind of rail-service option between North Liberty and Iowa City, and he adds that Cedar Falls planners might have to consider it, too.

The study uncovered one big concern for Cedar Rapids, however — the planned expansion of a local Archer Daniel Midland plant which is expected to increase freight railroad traffic by 70 percent.

Light-rail passenger routes could be competitive, according to the report, which says they’d be limited to going about 30 miles an hour. To upgrade trains and track for high-speed transit would cost about $70 million, though Shamberger says to put that into perspective, it would cost about $400 million to add one more lane to Interstate-380 in the same area.

The commuter-railroad proposal is one of more than a dozen listed in a planning initiative for the region drawn up back in May and titled “Fifteen in Five.”

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