The study area for the Chicago to Council Bluffs-Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System Planning Study extends approximately 500 miles from downtown Chicago to a terminal in the Council Bluffs-Omaha area. Route alternatives were evaluated based on cost, ridership potential, potential environmental impacts, and input provided by resource agencies and the public. Each route alternative evaluated is an existing or former passenger rail route.
As identified in the Tier 1 Final EIS, Route Alternative 4-A is the preferred route alternative as recommended to the FRA for the Chicago to Council Bluffs-Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System Study and was carried forward for further analysis in the Tier 1 Final EIS, along with the no-build alternative. Route Alternative 4-A was identified as the most reasonable route alternative for the project to carry forward for further analysis in the Tier 1 EIS.
For further information on the alternative screening process, see the Final Alternatives Analysis Report in Appendix A of the Tier 1 Final EIS.
Route alternative 4-A was carried forward for detailed evaluation because, when compared to the other route alternatives considered, it:
- Meets project purpose and need.
- Has relatively low construction complexity and relatively low construction costs.
- Has grade-crossing complexity similar to all route alternatives.
- Is the shortest route alternative.
- Has a competitive passenger-train travel time.
- Serves the largest population.
- Has the highest ridership and fare box revenue forecast.
- Has direct access to Chicago Union Station.
- Has no unreasonable environmental resource issues.