Renewed hope for Iowa City to Chicago passenger train - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Renewed hope for Iowa City to Chicago passenger train

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - The new I-Jobs bill signed in Cedar Rapids by Governor Chet Culver on Monday, includes money for the Chicago Flyer project, which would connect Iowa City and Chicago for passenger rail service. 

The contribution of state dollars puts Iowa in the running for federal rail funding once again, after the last round of money failed to come through. This time, state officials say the project is at the front of the line for competitive funding.

"Our legislature this year found 6.5 million dollars in the budget, which will now allow us to access the 80-percent of the federal funding that will be available to us for this project," said Nancy Quellhorst, President and CEO of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce.

She says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has made it clear that the Chicago Flyer project is in an excellent position to get that federal assistance. That's because previous funding applications submitted by the Iowa Department of Transportation were well-received by the Federal Railway Administration.

"We had very good reviews from the FRA, as far as the quality of the application, and the quality of the new service we're trying to start," said Tammy Nicholson, director of the IDOT's Office of Rail Transportation.

New applications for stimulus money will be submitted sometime this summer, with the hope of securing the funds by fall. However, the start of construction on the Chicago Flyer project would still take some time.

"There are environmental tests and studies that need to be conducted," Quellhorst said. "It is not something that's going to happen overnight."

The Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce will hold an informational meeting at 4:30 on Tuesday afternoon at their location, 325 East Washington Street. The public is invited to attend.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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