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MIPRC lauds American Jobs Plan's proposed $80 billion for passenger rail
Jon Davis
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MIPRC lauds American Jobs Plan's proposed $80 billion for passenger rail

'Equal consideration' sought for states' & Amtrak's plans

The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission is asking the Biden administration to give “equal consideration” to states’ passenger rail plans and Amtrak’s as it refines the details of how its proposed $2.7 trillion American Jobs Plan will spend about $80 billion on passenger rail.

The April 20 letter details the progress Midwestern states have made with $3.1 billion in federal funds provided through federal programs since 2009-2010, including the new passenger locomotives and coaches jointly owned and operated by Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin.

The letter calls attention to proposed additional services and routes, including Minnesota’s and Wisconsin’s plan for a second daily train between the Twin Cities, Milwaukee and Chicago, along with:

•    Illinois’ Chicago-Moline, Ill., expansion, which sets the stage for possible future service to Iowa City and Des Moines, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb.;
•    Illinois’ restoration of service between Chicago and Rockford;
•    Wisconsin’s planning for additional frequencies on its Milwaukee-Chicago Hiawatha service (in addition to the new TCMC service).
•    Minnesota’s plan to restore service from the Twin Cities to Duluth.
•    Kansas’ work to extend the Heartland Flyer (Fort Worth, Texas, to Oklahoma City, Okla.) north to Kansas City via Wichita.
•    Ohio’s consideration of new service from Columbus to Chicago via Ft. Wayne, Ind. 

Nationwide, state departments of transportation reported 155 passenger rail projects – with a total cost of $58.7 billion – were in their project pipelines as of February. (A project list compiled by the States for Passenger Rail Coalition and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials can be seen here.)

“These projects speak to both an immediate need to fund a backlog of passenger rail projects, as well as an ongoing need to establish a continuous, dedicated form of passenger rail project funding for the years ahead,” the letter stated. “If completed, these projects would result in nearly 80 additional daily round trips using more than 150 new or refurbished locomotives and passenger rail cars, almost 40 new cities being served by passenger rail, and significant improvements to over 70 stations.

“These projects would create or enhance services where the states and, often, Amtrak, want them to enhance regional mobility and access. Additionally, nearly 400 upgraded grade crossings/closings to vehicular traffic would realize significant safety, capacity, and reliability improvements not only for passenger rail but for freight rail traffic,” the letter said.

Passenger rail spending proposed in the American Jobs Plan would be in addition to the final amounts Congress authorizes in its pending renewal of the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act, which expires on Sept. 30. (See MIPRC’s renewal positions/principles here).

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