Iowa has won two grants for high-speed passenger rail service worth approximately 18-million dollars as part of the federal stimulus package. Iowa Department of Transportation spokesperson, Dena Gray-Fisher, says the first grant is for one-million dollars.
She says it will allow the state to continue studying passenger rail service from Omaha to Chicago, with a particular focus on the Iowa City to Omaha/Council Bluffs route, which the state has not studied yet.
The other grant is for 17-million dollars. Gray-Fisher says that money will be used for crossovers that allow freight and passenger trains to run without interrupting each other and she says that should improve the on-time service. The state did not get everything it wanted though. She says Iowa did apply for funding for the Chicago to Iowa City and Chicago to Dubuque projects, but they were not selected.
Gray-Fisher says even though applications were not chosen, they feel they are in a good position for the next round of applications because of the work they have done already on those routes. Gray-Fisher says it’s not known how soon any of the new passenger rail services could become a reality.
Gray-Fisher says there isn’t a time frame, but every step is designed to move the state forward and that is what they wanted to do. She says Iowa is still in a good position because of its partnerships with other states. She says Iowa is part of the eight-state midwest pact, the Chicago Hub Corridor, and she says the Obama administration is very supportive of the corridor. Gray-Fisher says that is why the midwest corridor received the greatest amount of money in this round of applications.
The president announced a total of eight billion dollars in rail projects nationwide Thursday.