Around 175 business leaders and city leaders from central Iowa are in Washington D.C. this week for an annual lobbying trip. The Greater Des Moines Partnership members are meeting with legislators and agency heads such as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the group would like an Amtrak study of adding passenger rail service between Chicago and Iowa City to also include Des Moines. "I suppose maybe another factor would be – put it in the Quad Cities and Iowa City and see how much use it gets and see if it’s going to be a needed addition of transportation beyond Iowa City," Grassley said.
"There’s even some talk of it being extended over to Omaha, for example." Leaders from several counties surrounding Polk County are also on the trip. Grassley says Jasper County officials are making a pitch for a federal study of Interstate 80 at Newton to see if there ways to ease congestion on race days at the Iowa Speedway.
"Dependent on the study, then the next step would be to ask for money for changing something in the traffic pattern there. I suppose adding extra lanes for part of that or just finding some other way," Grassley said. Some of the racetrack’s biggest events are coming up and are expected to draw 50-thousand fans.