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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Iowa ramps up efforts to add intercity passenger-rail service


Add Iowa to the growing list of states seeking to add intercity passenger-rail service. Gov. Chet Culver recently signed into law legislation that will make it easier for Iowa to enter into agreements fostering passenger-rail growth, according to the state.

The bill eliminates the Iowa Railway Finance Authority, as well as the maximum threshold that apples to grants under the Rail Revolving Loan and Grant Program. It also transfers responsibilities for the administration of the Rail Revolving Loan and Grant Fund, and Passenger Rail Service Revolving Fund to the state's department of transportation.

In addition, the legislation expands the director of transportation's authorization to enter into agreements related to passenger-rail service.

Meanwhile, the state recently created the I-JOBS program, which calls for spending $830 million to upgrade Iowa's infrastructure. The program earmarks $10 million for multi-modal transportation projects, including rail.

The state has made other passenger-rail strides in recent months, as well, such as budgeting $3 million for passenger-rail efforts. Iowa also plans to compete for federal passenger-rail funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The ultimate goal? Positioning the state to work with Illinois and Amtrak to bring new passenger-rail lines to the state and connect more Iowa communities with Chicago.

"Passenger rail service is a key component to our state's economic development efforts," said Culver in a prepared statement. "By making it easier to connect between our state and key cities throughout the Midwest and the nation, we can attract new companies and bring new jobs to Iowa."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/6/2009