Governor rides the train

Governor Chet Culver rode a train this past Sunday, making several campaign-style stops in eastern Iowa that were covered by local media, then Culver took the train to Chicago today for a "summit" on high speed rail. The governor's staff issued a news release late this afternoon about the big "M.O.U." that was signed by the governors of Iowa and Illinois and another M.O.U. that was signed by governors from eight states.  


Eight States Sign Agreement that Includes Rail Service to Des Moines

CHICAGO – In an effort to improve infrastructure, transportation and the economy, Governor Chet Culver and Governor Pat Quinn today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate efforts by Iowa and Illinois to establish passenger rail service from Chicago to Dubuque and from Chicago to the Quad Cities and Iowa City.

In addition, Governor Culver joined leaders from eight states who signed a Memorandum of Understanding in support of regional high-speed rail. That agreement includes, as a key goal, extending passenger service from Iowa City to Des Moines and on to Omaha.

"Expanding passenger rail service in Iowa is one of my administration's top transportation priorities," said Governor Chet Culver.  "Reconnecting some of Iowa’s largest cities – such as Dubuque, Iowa City and the Quad Cities – to Chicago will add to our state’s economic success, and as Governor I appreciate the opportunity to work with Governor Quinn on this important regional issue. This is a first, but far from last, step in expanding passenger service on to Des Moines and across Iowa."

Governor Culver joined Governor Quinn along with Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio, and other government leaders and rail officials at the Midwest High-Speed Rail Summit in Chicago today.

Following the signing of the eight-state high-speed rail agreement, Iowa and Illinois officials signed a separate agreement that spells out action to be taken by the transportation departments in both states.
The Iowa Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Transportation agree to cooperate and coordinate the planning and implementation of passenger rail service in the Chicago-Dubuque and Chicago-Quad Cities-Iowa City corridors, and to share certain costs associated with the preparation and operation of these new routes. Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the departments of transportation in both states agree to:

• Be responsible for coordinating with owner railroads to plan, finance and complete track and signal work within their state to implement passenger rail service in the corridors between Chicago-Dubuque and Chicago-Iowa City;

• Be responsible for executing operating agreements with passenger rail service operators that will specify the service parameters, equipment allocation, promotional arrangements, operating costs and other obligations, for providing passenger rail service within the boundaries of each state; and

• Share the cost of operating passenger rail service and the cost of equipment for providing passenger rail service from Chicago to Iowa City based on the mileage percentage – 73% (158.6 miles) in Illinois and 27% (59.3 miles) in Iowa – and from Chicago to Dubuque based on the projected ridership percentage – 83% in Illinois and 17% in Iowa.

The Iowa DOT and Illinois DOT will also be responsible for coordinating with local communities on each route in their state to provide station facilities for passenger waiting and boarding.

Iowa and Illinois have been working together on applications for federal passenger rail funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In addition, Governor Culver’s signature legislative accomplishment – the I-JOBS Initiative – includes $10 million for multi-modal transportation projects in Iowa, including $3 million for expanded passenger rail service in the state.

Yesterday, on his way to Chicago, Governor Culver led a five-city whistle stop tour through eastern Iowa to promote expanding passenger rail service in the state

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.