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Government State

Amtrak to add route from Iowa City to Chicago

CHICAGO – The Illinois and Iowa departments of transportation have been awarded $230 million to add Amtrak rail service from Chicago to Iowa City, officials announced Monday.

The Green Line, as it will be called, is expected to begin service in 2015 with two daily round trips and a stop in the Quad Cities.Iowa Gov. Chet Culver said the project will create nearly 600 jobs for design and construction and will help promote further passenger rail development in Iowa.

“This will not only create jobs and spur development but will work toward ... making Iowa the best-connected state in American,” Culver said in a news release. “Today’s announcement will also inspire efforts to establish new passenger rail from Chicago to Dubuque and points westward from there.”

Iowa and Illinois have been part of a nine-state effort to build a high-speed rail network in the Midwest.

“Illinois is quickly becoming the rail hub of the Midwest, and this new route means that for the first time, passengers can travel from Chicago to the Quad Cities – and beyond – quickly and effortlessly,” Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said in a release.

Trains will travel at speeds of nearly 80 mph, making the 219 miles trip from Chicago to Iowa City in less than five hours.

Iowa and Illinois had submitted a joint $248 million application under the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program. The total cost of the project is $310 million with each state providing a share of required matching funds.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said the project will help reduce costs for transportation, fuel and pollution. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said the new passenger rail service will “add convenience for many Iowans” but future development of a high-speed network is needed.

“It order to be truly successful, this rail service must connect to a high-speed intercity network,” Harkin said.

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