I-Jobs-Iowa’s Infrastructure Investment Initiative

Passenger Rail Service Revolving Fund

Train Iowa Code Section 327J establishes the Passenger Rail Service Revolving Fund. Monies deposited into the fund shall be used to pay the costs associated with the initiation, operation and maintenance of passenger rail service. In FY 2010, $3 million was appropriated to the fund through I-JOBS legislation.

The Iowa DOT is presently working with Governor Culver and Lieutenant Governor Judge, eight Midwestern states, several Iowa communities, planning organizations, advocacy groups, the Passenger Rail Advisory Committee, members of Congress, and legislators to complete goals that will achieve a bold new passenger rail service plan for the state called - Iowa Connections.

Iowa Connections views passenger rail as a means to larger national and regional goals. The vision seeks to integrate passenger rail into the broader transportation system and make it a significant contributor to improved mobility, economic competitiveness, community revitalization, and reduced fuel use and emissions. It is a vision where travel by train is comfortable, efficient and reliable.

The vision uses an incremental approach to implementation - to increase service over time, based on market demand, operational feasibility and funding.

The long-term goal is to establish a passenger rail network that provides rail service that connects Iowans to major cities, regional destinations and many other communities not typically served by commercial air or current passenger rail. The immediate goal or first phase is to achieve passenger rail service from Iowa City (via the Quad Cities) to Chicago and Dubuque to Chicago. A second phase may extend those routes to Des Moines and Waterloo.

I-JOBS funding will be used to help achieve the first phase of this plan and allow Iowa to compete at the federal level for intercity passenger rail funding for infrastructure improvements.

On Aug. 11, 2009, the Iowa Transportation Commission approved the Iowa Department of Transportation's request to expend  $500,000 from the Passenger Rail Revolving Fund (as defined in Iowa Code 327J) for application preparation steps, such as engineering and environmental studies, related to its applications for intercity passenger rail projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

On March 9, 2010, the Iowa Transportation Commission approved programming up to $1 million for the Chicago to Omaha planning study for passenger rail in Iowa. The funds will be used to provide the required state match for the $1 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program. The purpose of the study is to evaluate and further develop proposed passenger rail service from Chicago to Omaha. The study will include identification of a preferred route through this heavily populated corridor, completion of environmental studies, evaluation of ridership potential, preparation of preliminary engineering plans, preparation of cost estimates for capital expenditures and estimation of costs for the operation of service. Completion of the study will position Iowa to be eligible to apply for future federal funding opportunities for passenger rail service expansion. 

To Get on Board and learn more about Iowa Connections visit the DOT’s
Iowa Passenger Rail Web site.