Dubuque passenger rail right on track - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque passenger rail right on track

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- The Key City is already on board to be a part of a rail service to Chicago. That's after the Illinois DOT provided funding to upgrade the tracks on the route. And Monday's announcement from the Iowa DOT could present more opportunities for the entire state in the future.

But after the announcement of passenger rail from Iowa City to Chicago, many Dubuque residents are worried about what that means for Dubuque's "Ride the Rail" campaign. It turns out that campaign is right on track.

It started as a goal that officials hoped to be completed by 2010.

"The stimulus money didn't come here but it did come to passenger rail and I think that's a big thing for the united states as a whole," Dubuque's Ride the Rail Committee Member Sue Hafkemeyer said.

But when federal funding didn't come to Dubuque, Ride the Rail started working closely with the Illinois Department of Transportation. At the end of last year the Illinois DOT funded $60 million to upgrade tracks from Dubuque to Chicago and keep passenger rail moving, too.

"It's not an either or, its a both. So even though this money came to the Iowa City Quad City route it doesn't effect the Dubuque route," Hafkemeyer said.

Monday's Iowa DOT announcement of funding for the Iowa City to Chicago passenger rail is actually good news for Dubuque.

"I think it presents great opportunities down the road to expand rail services to places like Dubuque, Waterloo and Fort Dodge. If we can make this work successful and increase ridership because its reliable, its cost effective and it creates jobs, that will be the incentive to keep moving forward," U.S. District Representative, Democrat, Bruce Braley said.

And despite the looks of it, Hafkemeyer says the Dubuque passenger rail isn't getting left in the dark. She says the tracks should be getting more traffic in the coming years.

"The ridership will mostly be from the Illinois side but eventually it will extend to Waterloo and Sioux city," Hafkemeyer said.

Since Illinois has already agreed to fund their side of the route, Dubuque is seeking about $16 million for the Iowa side of the track and a depot for the train to use.

It will likely be in the Port of Dubuque near downtown and serve as a spot for all modes of transportation in Dubuque. If all goes as planned it should be complete by 2013.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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