Skip to comments.Braley pressing Iowa Legislature for passenger rail funding
Posted on 05/11/2011 6:05:59 PM PDT by iowamark
U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley is calling on Iowa lawmakers and Gov. Terry Branstad to fund the states share of the cost of developing a high-speed rail connection between Iowa City through the Quad Cities to Chicago.
Iowa and Illinois have secured $230 million in federal funding for an Amtrak route between Chicago and Iowa City. The project now depends on Branstad and the Legislature fulfilling Iowas $20 million commitment to the project, according to Braley, whose district includes the Quad Cities.
He has written to Branstad as well as House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, urging them to include the funds in the fiscal 2012 budget to stimulate Iowas economy and create jobs by funding the high-speed passenger rail line.
Branstad and legislative Republicans have opposed the state funding for the project on philosophical and fiscal grounds. Funds for developing more passenger rail service came from the federal stimulus program, which Republicans generally oppose.
Thats because the state budget cannot afford the $20 million cost, according to Rep. Nick Wagner, R-Marion, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Some of our members look at this as an opportunity not only to save $20 million at the state level, but $230 million at the federal level, he said.
House Republicans also question whether providing passenger rail is a core function of government, Wagner said.
Senate Democrats have included $2 million in their Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund budget for the passenger rail revolving loan fund and intent language to appropriate $6.5 million a year for three years toward the states share of the cost. House Republicans have stripped that funding.
Now is not the time for timid policies and small politics, Braley, a Waterloo Democrat wrote. Unfortunately, politics are standing in the way of an investment that would create hundreds of Iowa jobs and stimulate our economy.
Wagner said the state has been told the funds arent necessary until fiscal 2015, so the issue could be revisited.
However, Tammy Nicholson of the Iowa Department of Transportation said it could be a problem if there is no significant match in the 2012 and 2013 budgets. The first two years of the project involve design and environmental impact studies. The next two years, 2014 and 2015 would involve most of the construction and implementation of service.
We need matching funds as we go along to cash-flow the project costs, she said.
The project would create 588 jobs per year for the first four years of design and construction, Braley said. Once initiated, the new rail service is expected to increase business activity in the state by $25 million per year.
Communities along the line have worked with the DOT to develop a business plan to support the operation of the line, Nicholson said.
Braley announced a $268 million in funding for high-speed rail in five Midwestern states. This award allows for the purchase of 48 passenger rail cars and 7 locomotives for 8 corridors in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin. It includes funds for an Illinois to Dubuque line, said Alexandra Krasov, Braleys spokeswoman.
Or maybe an armored train:
U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley (D)
Of course it does... DBQ is going to get The Land o' Crack even if it takes confiscating every last damned dime from you greedy, bitter clingers. They'll wear you down and wait you out like a perpetual school bond campaign, cuz Bruce Braley and Michael Blouin are in da house!
"Train 13 is now departing Chicago for Rockford, Freeport, Dubuque and all points in between! Convicted felons, please avail yourselves of the search-free controlled substance storage areas conveniently located throughout the train. All abo-o-o-o-rd!!!"
It is not the initial funding that is the main problem, but the ongoing costs year after year down the road.
Consider: The quad cities are a fulcrum between chi-town and Iowa City. The way to build this would be to start with a local transit loop around the quad cities that would provide a point destination for out of town travelers.
Then, as the local system matured, and the market developed, the system will reach out east and west step by step to accommodate new markets--for example, it might reach a point where travelers from Chicago would be glad to get out of Chicago, drive to Joliet just as fast as driving to OHare, conveniently park and ride to catch a train to the QC.
IF there is a decent local light transport waiting there to get them to one of the colleges or downtowns or wherever, driving to Joliet and riding would be a reasonable improvement over driving an extra 100-200 miles. Later, Chicago might have the damn sense to provide an inter-city hub that connected with their own urban rail.
Similarly, traffic from Iowa city to QC would pick up if Iowans knew they could get around the quad cities (or Chicago, if they went all the way) without needing a car. In the mean time Iowa City would need to improve its own local light rail or bus system to make a car less useful for the out-of-towner--a line from a downtown terminal to the university, for example.
The key is to make the destination pull in traffic, not force the unwilling to pay for some bureaucrat's pipe dream.
Oh great - bringing the Chicago element to Iowa even faster than possible (wasn’t the $1 shuttle from ChiTown to IA City enough?)
Guess the Dems figure they didn’t truck in enough last election cycle (here’s a clue - gotta get those welfare queens up and awake during election hours)
Thanks for wrecking a once lovely state, d’bags.
DBQ is going to get The Land o’ Crack
Just blow a big hole in the ground and start throwing money down it, same results.
It would never happen that way either. There simply aren’t enough people who want to travel between Iowa and Chicago by train to make it work.