(Atlantic) A study to bring passenger rail service from Chicago to Omaha has gone through three phases and out of five alternative routes, the one chosen runs from Chicago to Moline, Illinois, Iowa City, Des Moines, Atlantic and Omaha. Atlantic City Administrator Doug Harris shared the good news with the Atlantic City Council Wednesday night.
“They were looking at five alternate lines to provide that service and as we have gone through these first three phases, the only route that is being considered is the one on Iowa Interstate going through Atlantic,” stated Harris. “So that is good news.” Harris admits there is still a lot that needs to be done including a financial feasibility and cost benefit analysis.
Phase I, the Chicago to Moline line is expected to start in 2015, followed by Phase II… Moline to Iowa City in 2017, Phase III, Iowa City to Des Moines and the fourth Phase is from Des Moines to Omaha. Harris says currently Officials are looking at the feasibility of placing a train station in Atlantic.
“The key as they evaluate this is what is the cost and how many people will it benefit and will it serve,” Harris said. “And the study shows that there will be 31,637 passengers of annual boarding passengers and getting off in Atlantic. The preliminary cost of building a train station in Atlantic is around $3-million.
“Which kind of blew my mind,” said Harris. “But of course you have to realize that they are very conservative and you have to comply with a lot of federal regulations which jacks the cost up in a hurry. But there are some economies that can be realized.”
“One thing is that they assumed is that, there would not be an interest in using the existing station and whether that can be used as an alternative I don’t know. But I told them at this point let’s don’t take anything off the table.”
Harris says this doesn’t lock the city of Atlantic into anything at this juncture, it is just a study, but he wants to make sure that they can show cost feasibility. And if this project goes forward there would be 80-percent federal match and the city of Atlantic would have to come up with 20-percent of the cost.
Harris adds that when the service gets to Des Moines they would provide inter city bus service from Des Moines to Atlantic and Omaha until that next phase is completed.
Harris admits he was excited to learn that the route through Atlantic had been chosen, but it still maybe ten years down the road.
February 21, 2013