DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad hasn’t ruled out a new Amtrak line from the Quad-Cities to Iowa City but said he remains skeptical of its benefit to the state.
Instead, the governor said he’ll wait for a results from a report by the Iowa Department of Transportation about the proposed line.
But the governor also said he was skeptical that such a line was a “feasible” investment for the state.
“We do have an Amtrak route that goes through southern Iowa,” Branstad told reporters Monday during his weekly news conference. “This would be adding another route, and the cost of that and upgrading the facilities and the ridership are all issues that I asked the Department of Transportation to carefully study and review, and I would wait until we hear back from them before we make a decision.”
At issue is a $53 million federal grant, part of which was to help extend passenger service from the Quad-Cities to Iowa City. The state would have to return its portion of the grant if the project doesn’t go forward. The grant was secured in October 2010, during former Gov. Chet Culver’s administration.
Long-term plans included extending the Quad-City-to-Iowa City line onto Des Moines and, eventually, Omaha, Neb.
A two-year $11 million appropriation to help pay for the service was stripped from this year’s budget in the Iowa House of Representatives after having been inserted in the state’s budget by the Senate. Republicans hold the majority in the House, and Democrats control the Senate.
“We’ve had the Department of Transportation reviewing and analyzing this and determining whether or not this is feasible and what the cost would be to state and local government,” Branstad said. “I would wait until we have a full report and recommendations from the Department of Transportation before deciding.”
The governor could not give a date when the DOT report will be finished. A call to the Iowa Department of Transportation regarding the report was not immediately returned Monday.