July 22, 2014

Study looks at high-speed rail for Omaha to Chicago route

Plans are being considered for a high-speed passenger railway linking Omaha and Chicago.

A $2-million study is looking at possible routes across Iowa. The Iowa Department of Transportation’s Amanda Martin says the project is a long way from completion and it’s uncertain where the money will originate.

“We do have the funding in place for the study,” Martin says. “We’re just in the study mode right now and that was the two-million dollars I mentioned earlier.”

One-million of that is coming from Iowa, with another million matched by the federal government.

Martin says since the chosen route goes through populated areas and uses already-laid track, it will be affordable and profitable.

Martin says this train would -not- be like the one Amtrak runs through parts of southern Nebraska and Iowa.

“The service is very different from the service we are studying now,” she says. “The service we’re studying now is inner city passenger rail service, typically between two urban areas.”

She says this train would run a lot more often and go much faster, making it a viable alternative to driving. The project is still in its infancy, but the DOT is hosting public forums on-line and in person.

In-person meetings are planned in Council Bluffs today. Learn more at: www.iowadot.gov.