According to local Iowa sources, the coming year is an important time for the future of Iowa’s passenger rail system. In 2010, more than $200 in federal funding was approved for a project which would create rail service between Iowa City and Chicago within the decade. However, the federal funding did not come without its stipulations. In order for Iowa to take advantage of the rail grants, the state has to provide $20 million of their own funds. Many rail advocates believe that the $20 million is a small price to pay for the millions in revenue that the project will bring over time, but the opposition is less optimistic. Conservative politicians are weary of the $3 million in annual operating fees, among other factors. As the Iowa state government continues to disagree over the issue, the $230 million in federal grants run the risk of being obtained for other state’s rail projects.
It’s seems unfortunate that there are political leaders in Iowa that are hesitant to embrace the long-term benefits of passenger rail to their state. Citizens of Iowa deserve a convenient passenger rail system and there’s no doubt that the state’s economy could benefit from eventually being connected to one of the country’s largest cities. One can only hope that time does not run out for Iowa, as the threat of losing their federal grant money, along with their passenger rail aspirations, to another state is very real.Posted in Passenger Rail