As state agency directors submit their layoff plans to the governor’s office today, Governor Chet Culver is riding a train to promote wind energy.
Culver boarded the “Iowa Unlimited” train in Nevada this afternoon, with stops scheduled in Iowa Falls, Mason City and finally in Manly where he will tour the Iowa Northern Railway Company’s distribution center for wind turbine components that are shipped by rail. This is Culver’s fourth trip on an Iowa train route this year to promote state and federal investment in rail lines.
“The other neat thing we’re doing is we’ll be able to invest in the depots and modernize them,” Culver says. “…Many of them have been on the decline and they don’t have all the services that people need, which can impact whether they ride (the train) or not.”
For example, Osceola’s Depot is undergoing a nearly $600,000 update. “And they’re bringing that historic place, you know, back to life,” Culver says. The single-story brick depot in Osceola was built in 1907 and renovation of the exterior began this summer.
During an interview with Radio Iowa that was conducted on Culver’s last train trip through southern Iowa in September, Culver said it was important to upgrade the rails, too, so trains can run faster. Switching equipment is being installed along the rail line that enters southwestern Iowa after the stop in Omaha and exits southeastern Iowa at the Burlington stop.
“Because you do have the freight and the Amtrak trains that have to work together: 40 freight trains and two Amtraks daily,” Culver said, “so that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing on this track is putting in some switches — I think four of them are planned — so that…Amtrak can pass the slower freights.”
Governor Culver ordered an across-the-board cut in executive branch agencies on October 8. Today, October 20, state agency directors are submitting their plans for enacting a 10 percent cut in spending. Aides to the governor say a detailed list of those plans will be released to the public midday tomorrow.