Branstad has concerns about Iowa City passenger rail service - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Branstad has concerns about Iowa City passenger rail service

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -- Governor-elect Terry Branstad says he'll be looking closely at the plan to provide passenger rail service between eastern Iowa and Chicago.

Branstad says he's not opposed to it, but has concerns about the cost of the project.

These concerns come as other newly-elected Republican governors in Ohio and Wisconsin have vowed to strike down passenger rail plans. Wisconsin's Governor-elect has ordered $800 million set aside for rail projects in the state to be re-directed for road and bridge repairs.

President and CEO of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, Nancy Quellhorst, has been an outspoken supporter of the "Chicago Flyer" project. She says the project has already gained a lot of momentum with local support and the $230 million federal grant given to the Iowa department of transportation last month.

Quellhorst says she understands Branstad is willing to study the plan rather than immediately oppose it. And she says she's confident that when Branstad takes a closer look, he'll support the project.

"We think that when he studies the issue, he'll see that it's a great return on our investment. Seventy-five percent of the project would come from the federal government, and 25 percent from Iowans, so it's a good value," Quellhorst said.

The planned route from Chicago to Iowa City is expected to cost $310 million. Iowa and Illinois would split the $80 million cost after federal assistance.

Republican Rep. Kraig Paulsen, who will become House speaker when the Legislature convenes in January, says he's also unsure whether he'll support the rail expansion.

Several members of the Chamber lobbied aggressively for the Chicago Flyer during the last legislative session, and Quellhorst says it will be just as important to do the same thing during the next session.

 

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