Long-planned line threatened by rising costs, more.
In 2010, the federal government approved a $230 million grant for a passenger rail line linking Iowa City, the Quad Cities and Chicago, amid a fanfare of high expectations.
The Iowa City Chamber of Commerce projected the train line would boost small businesses and the rest of the local economy, bringing tourists from Chicago as well as friends and family of University of Iowa students. The organization predicted a $25 million a year increase in business activity from the train line. More than 240,000 people were expected to ride the route in its first year.
“This is a great day for the state of Iowa,” Tammy Nicholson, the director of Iowa’s Office of Rail Transportation, told the Quad-City Times at the time.
But as 2015—the year the line was supposed to open—winds on, some are wondering if continuing to invest in the planned train line is even worth it.
“I am a fan of passenger rail, but I do not want to see an expenditure of funds for a system that ultimately cannot reach Chicago due to Illinois’ budget constraints,” Iowa Transportation Commissioner Amy Reasner told The Gazette in July.
So far, federal grants have paid for most of the work, including a $6.21 million preliminary study, the paper reported. But amid rising cost estimates and Illinois’ budget woes, it’s not clear when, if ever, the train line will happen.
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