AMES, Iowa – Jan. 28, 2010 – Earlier today, Governor Chet Culver announced that Iowa has been selected to receive two high-speed passenger rail grants worth approximately $18 million. These funds are part of the $8 billion provided for passenger rail grants in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) Director Nancy Richardson said, “This is great news for Iowa. Furthering plans of expanded passenger rail service in Iowa will eventually connect more businesses, create jobs and strengthen our economy in the long term. It will also provide another transportation alternative for those who cannot or choose not to drive. We’ve worked hard to bring expanded passenger rail service to Iowa. This round of funding is just the first step in our efforts to secure the funding Iowa needs to achieve high-speed rail connectivity in the Midwest. We will continue to compete for future funds to make sure Iowa receives additional rail funding in upcoming rounds.”
Michael Franke, assistant vice president of Amtrak policy and development, said, “Amtrak is pleased to congratulate Iowa in winning grants through a highly competitive process. As a valued partner of Amtrak, we look forward to continuing the study of the route westward from Iowa City to Omaha with the Iowa DOT, while making improvements to our current Amtrak California Zephyr route across southern Iowa.”
Iowa will receive the following federal grants in this first round of funding for high-speed rail:
· $1 million for a planning study for service between Omaha and Chicago. This grant will better prepare Iowa to secure future federal funding for passenger rail service.
· Approximately $17 million to improve infrastructure on the BNSF line that provides current Amtrak service across southern Iowa, thus improving Amtrak’s on-time performance on that line.
Competition for these federal funds was extensive. The Federal Railroad Administration received 278 pre-applications requesting more than $102 billion for high speed rail from 40 states and the District of Columbia. Today, the Obama administration distributed $8 billion for work on 13 rail corridors.
The Federal Railroad Administration is anticipating that additional federal funds will be made available for high-speed rail capital projects in FFY2011. There remains $2.5 billion available for FFY2010. This will provide Iowa and other members of the eight-state Midwest rail group with additional opportunities to compete for funding.
“While we are disappointed by the fact that the applications to fund the Chicago to Iowa City and Chicago to Dubuque projects were not selected, the planning and environmental work done to prepare these applications better positions Iowa to compete for these future rounds of funding,” said Stuart Anderson, director of the Iowa DOT’s Planning, Programming and Modal Division.
In reaction to the announcement, Richardson also said how she appreciated the enthusiasm of Iowans to expand passenger rail service in the state, and she wants to continue to build upon that support to keep Iowa moving forward with its plans. She also congratulated the other states within the Midwest region who were successful in their applications for funding, noting that enhanced passenger rail service in other Midwest states will benefit the entire region.
Media contact: Dena Gray-Fisher, 515-239-1933, firstname.lastname@example.org