Congressional backers of Amtrak service from Des Moines to Chicago are pressing the federal government to support the project. Congressmen Phil Hare of Illinois and Bruce Braley of Iowa announced Friday that two legs of the proposed project are shovel ready, from Chicago to the Quad Cities and on to Iowa City.

Braley says it may take several years to complete, but he claims Amtrak service to the Quad Cities alone would create as many as 800 jobs. "If we can get the initial funding to make this a reality between Chicago and the Quad Cities, the likelihood of going further to Iowa City, Des Moines, and Omaha is greatly expanded," Braley said.

Braley estimates annual ridership on a Chicago to Iowa City line at nearly 200,000. Paul Rumler is with the Quad Cities Passenger Rail Coalition. "With the combined population of 2.2 million people between Quad Cities and Omaha, this is the most highly populated corridor without passenger rail service to Chicago," Rumler said.

Hare and Braley say the proposed rail line should be a top national priority. The economic stimulus package includes about eight billion dollars for passenger rail service projects nationwide.