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Inglis: Push the rail proposal through

BY MCCULLOUGH INGLIS | SEPTEMBER 19, 2012 6:30 AM

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The proposed passenger rail line from Chicago to Omaha via Iowa City has received the endorsement of the University of Iowa Student Government, but the project is hardly a done deal.
The project must first pass the first stage, testing its feasibility, then the project will depend upon the approval of the Iowa Legislature this spring.

As the 19-11 vote in favor of the rail line from the UISG Senate demonstrated, however, significant opposition to the line exists, as reported by The Daily Iowan.

Some of the members of the body’s concern regarded Iowa’s $20 million price tag for the rail line and fear that the project will go over budget. This foreshadows the debate that will take place in the chambers of the Legislature and demonstrates how necessary it is for Iowa City residents to make their voices heard in favor of the proposal.

With gas prices rising and the foreign-security issues that come with our oil dependency — as demonstrated yet again by the events in the Middle East this past week — rail travel is becoming an increasingly necessary alternative to our car-based transportation system.

On average, an Amtrak passenger uses 30 percent less energy than a car passenger. More specifically, an Iowa City to Chicago rail line would save 1.5 million gallons of gas in reduced car travel each year, according to a 2010 study by Illinois Public Interest Research Group.

At the same time, the proposed passenger rail line would simultaneously reduce interstate congestion — a problem that costs Midwestern metropolitan areas an estimated $10 billion in reduced economic output each year — and provide a means of transportation that would allow passengers to ride and work at the same time.

Going beyond this, the passenger rail line would provide a dependable mode of transportation in the winter months, when car and air travel are compromised.

In a market that demands interconnectivity and constant exchange of goods and ideas, the proposed Chicago to Omaha line could not make more sense. Now it’s up to Iowa City to make sure the Legislature hears voices in favor of the proposal this spring.


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