Only a few hours are left to take part in an online open house about the Omaha-to-Chicago passenger rail study. The Iowa D.O.T. started taking comments on the proposed rail line in February and held several public meetings and this is the last day for the online open house.

Amanda Martin, the D.O.T’s freight and passenger policy coordinator, says it’s part of a five-step process that could eventually lead to high-speed rail service across Iowa. Martin says, “Now we’re going into step three, which is reviewing the public and agency input, which is through those comments we’re receiving online through our public input open houses and through other agencies like the railroads that are involved and the FRA and other agencies, what we call resource agencies.”

Once that’s complete, an environmental impact study will begin. Martin says public input has been overwhelmingly positive. “So far, we’ve gotten a lot of feedback through our first effort which was mid-February through mid-April and now we’re currently obtaining feedback for our alternatives analysis report which has a draft copy on the website,” she says. “So far, there’s a very low amount of negative comments, right around 4% is negative.”

Martin says the Iowa D.O.T. received 287 comments last week through the online open house. The February-through-April effort resulted in more than 12-hundred comments. Agencies involved in the rail study have identified a route that follows I-80 as the most feasible alternative.