State Gets Feedback On Passenger Rail Proposal

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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May 19, 2010

There may soon be another option when it comes to traveling across Kansas. The state is moving forward with plans for a passenger rail. Wednesday, residents got the chance to give feedback on those plans at a public meeting hosted by the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Amtrak conducted a feasibility study on four different routes for the expansion. One reaches from Fort Worth, TX to Kansas City, MO. Two routes reach from Kansas City to Oklahoma City, operating at different times. The fourth route reaches from Newton to Oklahoma City. Each route differs in cost and ridership.

Oklahoma City resident Pat Corley drove all the way to Wichita to hear more about the plans. He says when he travels to Wichita in the future, he hopes to take the train.

"You see more country, it's just a better way to travel," said Corley.

Corley is no stranger to the rail, traveling from Oklahoma City to Wichita often over the past four decades to visit good friends.

"I was the last person to take the train from Wichita to Oklahoma City when the Lone Star stopped," said Corley.

Now he hopes Kansas will help bring the passenger rail back. It's a project that could cost anywhere from $150 million to $480 million to get it started. That cost would depend on the route and how far it stretches.

"The majority of the cost would be picked up by Kansas, because we're initiating the service, and we're the ones that are looking into expanding the service," said Planning and Development Director Chris Herrick.

Wednesday, KDOT presented results from a feasibility study to residents, asking them to answer the question, 'Is the cost worth it?'

"That, I don't know," said Herrick. " We're going to see what we find out."

As the state continues to conduct research, many people at Wednesday's meeting already had their minds made up.

"I want to find out what the options are, how do we become proactive in advocating for them?" said Carrie Draher, who supports the expansion.

"It's a great way to travel, so I would encourage people to look at it, support it, and hopefully we can get it going," said Corley.

The state would also pay a subsidy for operating costs for the rail. Oklahoma and Missouri could help with some of the costs, but Kansas would be paying the most of the three states. The state is set to move forward with plans and hopes to get a final decision from legislature within the next couple of years.

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