Plans to build a passenger rail system across Iowa, from Omaha to Chicago, are chugging along. Three public hearings will be held next week to give residents in Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois the chance to comment on the proposal. Amanda Martin, policy coordinator for the Iowa DOT’s Office of Rail Transportation, says the results of a major study are being unveiled.
The environmental impact study is available for view on the DOT website and the public hearings are for people to ask questions about the study and the project overall. The hearings are a joint effort between the Iowa and Illinois DOTs and the Federal Railroad Administration.
Martin says another study will focus on giving a more exact cost estimate for the project. “After that’s developed, we’ll put all of that information into a final environmental impact statement and put that out for the public to review,” she says. The proposed route utilizes BNSF and Iowa Interstate Freight rails from Omaha to Chicago’s Union Station. Matching funds will be needed for the project to continue.
Martin says they plan to present the completed project to members of the Iowa legislature in a few months. “We’ll have some information we can present to them, hopefully, in the early spring,” she says. “We’re hoping March/April time period, we’ll have the service development plan drafted. We do have a lot of information already to provide folks who have questions.”
The first open house on the environmental impact statement is Tuesday, December 11th, at Chicago’s Union Station. The next hearing will be Wednesday, December 12th, at the Des Moines Botanical Center. The final public hearing is Thursday, December 13th, at the Council Bluffs Public Library.
All sessions start at 4 P.M. with a formal presentation at 5:30 followed by a question-and-answer session until