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KDOT submits applications for rail funding

KDOT submits applications for rail funding


Monday, August 31, 2009, 11:18am


Wichita Business Journal - by Daniel McCoy

The Kansas Department of Transportation has submitted an application seeking $7.6 million in stimulus funding for track improvements on a section of the Southwest Chief passenger rail line.

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, passing through numerous Kansas cities, including Kansas City, Newton and Garden City.

KDOT says the money would be used to improve a section of track between Emporia and Barclay that will allow the train to travel faster.

KDOT submitted a second application for $500,000 to fund the creation of a service development plan for intercity passenger rail service between Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas.

This grant would not use American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money and requires a 50 percent state match. KDOT and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation have each committed $125,000 to the project. The service plan must first be developed before the project can receive federal funding for the capital spending involved.

A Wichita-based group, the Northern Flyer Alliance, is working to make the project happen. The group wants to extend the Amtrak line between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth. The route would take the train through Wichita to Newton, where it would join the Southwest Chief line.

Alliance president Deborah Fischer Stout says her organization estimates it could be built for $25 million ­— potentially all from the $8 billion in stimulus money set aside for passenger rail projects.

The KDOT applications were submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration. KDOT says it expects the awards to be announced by early October.

The department also plans to submit a third application by Oct. 2, which will be for $10 million for signal and crossing improvements between Newton and the Oklahoma state line.

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