This open house is being held to illustrate provide an update and an opportunity to comment on:
We encourage you to select the comment button below and submit your email address to receive ongoing updates on study information and additional opportunities to participate.
Your input will help the Iowa Department of Transportation, Illinois Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration understand your priorities, concerns and goals for the establishment of regional passenger rail service from Chicago, Ill., through Iowa, to Omaha, Neb.
Please use the arrows located on either side of the screen to navigate through this meeting.
You may start your comment by selecting the comment button below and add to it during your entire session in the open house. Comments on the route alternatives will be accepted until May 21, 2012.
This study, called a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), will:
The planning activities include:
The Tier 1 EIS will provide the Iowa and Illinois DOTs, FRA and the public with a full understanding of the service-wide environmental impacts of the route alternatives for establishing high-speed passenger rail between Chicago and Omaha. Prior to implementing passenger rail service between Chicago and Omaha, Tier 2 Project Level NEPA documents will be developed based on the study.
As indicated in the timeline, this is the second opportunity for you to participate in the study. If you are interested in sharing project information with your peers, family or friends, be sure to visit our project website at www.iowadot.gov/chicagotoomaha.
The Chicago to Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System will build on the Midwest Regional Rail System by providing a competitive transportation alternative to help meet future travel demands between Chicago and Omaha.
Increased travel demand resulting from population growth and changing demographics between Chicago and Omaha is overloading highways in urban areas and airports; and making travel increasingly costly, slower and less reliable. High-speed passenger-rail may offer lower cost, higher-reliability service, and reduce demand on highways and airports needed for other transportation services.
The study area for the Chicago to Omaha Rail System Planning Study extends approximately 500 miles, from downtown Chicago to a terminal in the Omaha area. Route alternatives are being evaluated based on their cost, ridership potential, environmental impacts, and input provided by resource agencies and the public. Each route is an existing or former passenger rail route
The current freight rail operator and potential stops for each route alternative is listed in the chart. The colors correspond to the colors of the route alternatives in the map. A passenger rail operator has not yet been identified.
Click on the map to view detailed route alternatives.
The screening process for evaluating route alternatives included two steps: 1) an initial coarse-level screening to identify whether any route alternative is hindered by major challenges (and would thus be eliminated from fine-level screening); and 2) a subsequent fine-level screening to evaluate each route alternative in greater quantitative and qualitative detail.
This two-step screening process was used to eliminate those route alternatives from detailed analysis that do not meet the purpose of and need for the study; are not reasonable and/or feasible; and/or have environmental, physical or right-of-way constraints that make them obviously less reasonable than one or more other route alternatives. This process is intended to allow the Tier 1 EIS to focus on only those route alternatives that truly warrant consideration.
The coarse-level screening concluded that one of the six route alternatives, Route Alternative 3, was not reasonable or feasible. Route Alternative 3 is the former Milwaukee Road route, where a substantial portion of the former rail line is abandoned, the tracks removed and the former rail right of way reclaimed and reused. Route Alternative 3 would require the redevelopment of approximately 225 miles of abandoned railroad right of way with significant landowner, environmental and cost impacts. The remaining five route alternatives were carried forward for more detailed consideration in the fine-level screening.
The fine-level screening concluded that of the remaining five alternatives carried forward from the coarse-level screening, four are not reasonable or feasible, including Route 1, 2, 4 and 5. Each of these routes will not be carried forward because they did not meet the project's purpose and need, they had high environmental concerns, and were not technically or economically feasible.
The No-Build and Route 4-A alternatives will be carried forward in the Tier 1 EIS.
The Route 4-A Alternative fully meets the project's purpose and need, as well as other criteria, and is compatible with the selected route for the Chicago to Iowa City intercity passenger rail service. This project has received an FRA service development grant award and is being actively pursued and developed by Illinois DOT.
The Tier 1 EIS will evaluate various implementation alternatives of Route Alternative 4-A to incorporate the decisions made by FRA and Illinois DOT concerning infrastructure improvements on the Chicago to Iowa City corridor. The Tier 1 EIS will also evaluate the reasonable alignment options in the Des Moines, Iowa vicinity to accommodate the freight traffic interference with the at-grade Union Pacific Railroad Co. crossing while still providing the passenger service benefits. In addition, the Tier 1 EIS will evaluate the reasonable alternatives for connecting the new passenger rail service between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Neb.
The No-Build Alternative will be used as a basis for comparison to the Route 4-A Alternative. The No-Build Alternative would consist of operating the current track and operations with the present level of maintenance and no appreciable change to current track configuration or operating conditions.
As a result of the High-speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program and the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, numerous passenger rail corridors have been identified and refined, with Chicago as the hub. In 2010 and 2011, studies were completed for Planning Phase 7 of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative. These studies included a corridor alternatives analysis, capital cost updates, operating equipment configurations and performance standards, advanced train control, and public outreach. The Chicago to Omaha corridor was included in these studies.
This, and other, intercity passenger rail projects will be considered throughout this planning study.
Iowa DOT, in conjunction with FRA and the Illinois DOT, hosted an online, self-directed open house meeting in early 2012 for the public to discuss the scope of the study and the initial range of route alternatives. In addition, agency scoping meetings were held in early 2012 to obtain comments from federal and state resource agencies on potential purpose and need elements and the initial range of route alternatives.
This is the second opportunity for the public to participate in the Chicago to Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System Planning Study. Another opportunity for resource agencies and the public to review route alternatives and potential impacts associated with their implementation will be during the public comment period after the Tier 1 Draft EIS is published in fall 2012.
You may leave a comment on the study by completing the fields below. Please be sure to leave your email or mailing address if you require a response. Comments on route alternatives and the draft alternatives analysis report will be accepted until May 21, 2012.
You are also invited to attend a meeting in your community. Join us at one of the following locations. The same information here will be presented at the in-person open house meetings.
Des Moines, Iowa
Council Bluffs, Iowa
We want to hear from you!