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Omaha to Chicago (and possibly through Iowa City) Railway Route Study to Kick off this Month

The National Department of Transportation is teaming up with the Iowa Department of Transportation to Conduct a study of the viability of a passenger rail route through the state.

This month, the Iowa Department of Transporation is initiating its viability study of a possible Chicago to Omaha passenger rail route that could travel through Iowa City along the way.

From the department release:

The Federal Railroad Administration, in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), is kicking off the Chicago to Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System Planning Study. The Iowa DOT will host an online, self-directed, open house meeting beginning Feb. 13, 2012, available at www.iowadot.gov/chicagotoomaha.

According to the department's website, one of the purposes of the study, which the public is welcome to provide input on, is to examine the value of five different routes for the project in order to "determine a preferred Chicago to Omaha passenger rail route alternative."

One of those routes, shown in blue on the attached PDF, goes from Chicago to Moline through Iowa City and Des Moines to Omaha.

The rail project, favored by Iowa City government and business leaders, has run into a snag as the Governor and House Republicans about the value of spending money on a rail route, even with federal money being offered to complete the job.

Harvey Kahler February 14, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Rules about considering all alternatives can be pretty ridiculous and allow a degree of manipulation. The IAIS-CSX-Metra route into Chicago being one that I think only old railfans want. The CP and abandoned portion of the former Milwaukee Road would be highly impractical as well as serving the least population. The UP would be a good fast route, serves some population; but would be opposed by UP for the incompatibility with its heavy volume of freight traffic. The CN might be a candidate for a secondary service through Northern Iowa population centers and to Sioux City. The BNSF would serve the southern tier of Iowa and could be implemented with little cost. The IAIS from Wyanette to Council Bluffs would serve Des Moines as well as fit in the schedule as an extension of one proposed round trip from Chicago on the BNSF-IAIS to Iowa City and back. The train really needs to be extended to Lincoln, NE on the BNSF with that state's cooperation to serve the capitol, university, and half the State's population. Minimal interference would be imposed on the coal route from Wyoming and might be readily mitigated. Travel from Lincoln would augment ridership and revenue generated in Iowa.
Richard Lyford May 01, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I grew up in Marion Iowa, on the Milwaukee Road. I attended the University of Chicag. It was a four hour train ride to school for about $25. It was easier for me to get to school than my sister who went to Iowa state even thouth it was a longer trip. I believe that a route from Chicago through Iowa City, Des Moines, Omaha, and lincoln would create a ttrain attracting students as well as other passenger. Railroads created walking communities in their day and a train station in the central business district in each of these cities would help the core area of each city recover from economic reversals. The book "Triumph of the City " by Edward Glaeser is a good read for the need for a high speed railroad system in the US to make our cities viable. They are where most of the US will be living by 2050.

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