Atlantic still being considered for high speed passenger rail route


November 7th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The City of Atlantic is still under consideration as a possible stop for a high-speed, Chicago-to-Omaha passenger rail route. City Administrator Doug Harris told the City Council during their meeting Wednesday evening he spoke recently with Amanda Martin, IA DOT freight and policy coordinator and Liaison to the Iowa Passenger Rail Advisory Committee. He says Atlantic is still in the running as one of the communities the train might pass through, but Martin wanted to know if the City was given further consideration, would the Rock Island Depot, which currently serves as the Chamber of Commerce’ Headquarters, be available as a possible stop?

Harris said there would have to be further discussion among the various entities, such as the group responsible for restoring the depot, the Chamber, and others, before a firm answer could be given. He said it was “exciting that they’re not only looking at this as a rail line, but also as a possible stop.”

A two-million dollar study is underway, to evaluate potential route alternatives, evaluate levels of service and ridership, analyze environmental impacts, and determine a preferred Chicago to Council Bluffs-Omaha passenger rail route alternative for intercity regional passenger rail service.  The study includes a Tier 1 Service Level Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  Half of the funds used to pay for the study is coming from the State of Iowa, with another million matched by the federal government. Open house public hearings on the Draft Tier 1 EIS are anticipated to be held in December. Online meetings are available from now through January 2013.The next steps would include submitting the final Tier 1 EIS to the the Feds, in order to be considered for approval.

Among the routes that were initially being considered, were those that ran from Chicago through: Dubuque, Waterloo and Ft. Dodge; Clinton, Cedar Rapids, and Ames; Cedar Rapids and Huxley; Moline, Iowa City, Des Moines, and possibly Atlantic; or, through Burlington, Osceola and Council Bluffs, which is essentially the existing AMTRAK route.