KDOT gives update on potential Amtrak expansion into Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - An Amtrak passenger train rolled into Wichita’s Union Station back in 2017 as part of an inspection ride to see the viability of service.
It was only a test at the time but soon, the real thing could return to the air capital.
Wednesday the Kansas Department of Transportation held a virtual update on the proposed expansion of the Heartland Flyer line that would connect Oklahoma City to Newton.
Sedgwick County Commissioner Pete Meitzner was listening to the update and said it seems like there is a lot of momentum behind the project.
“You hate to over promise but you can kind of feel the enthusiasm and the confidence on that call.”
It would be a major connection for the region.
“You can see this connects to Fort Worth, Kansas City, western Kansas and beyond," explained Cory Davis, KDOT's director of multimodal transportation during the call.
KDOT says the last major hold up on this long sought after program is potential federal funding to get it started. The good news is the department believes it could hear back as soon as the end of November if it got selected for the federal corridor ID program.
Davis says that, “provided opportunity for funding for not only planning on the service, but also project development, environmental review, preliminary engineering, design, construction and visually operation as we move through the pipeline."
The extension would create two new stops in Kansas, one in Wichita and one in Arkansas City. Meitzner said if this project gets the green light, it will have a major positive impact throughout South Central Kansas.
“I've said before it's not just about Wichita. This puts us on the national map puts Kansas. This improves our resume as a as another means of transportation. We do not fly from Wichita to Kansas City. We don't fly from Wichita to Oklahoma city.”
KDOT says as of now it looks like service would start in 2029 if they are approved but Davis believes this project could be fast tracked and get up and running sooner.
"While many other applicants for the corridor ID program are waiting on approval to be able to start their service development plan, we have elected to forge ahead and be ahead of the game, which could put us in a better place to move this service forward in a much more rapid manner.”