Congressman Dave Loebsack today applauded the decision by Amtrak to award $3 million for safety and reliability upgrades to the Southwest Chief route. The Southwest Chief has daily routes from Illinois to California, which travels through southeast Iowa, including a stop in Ft. Madison.
Last year, Loebsack joined Congressman Ben Ray Luján and a bipartisan group of Members of Congress in sending a letter to Amtrak headquarters expressing support for the Amtrak Southwest Chief line and calling for Amtrak to continue to commit to the TIGER IX grant. This funding will match a $16 million grant awarded to Colfax County, NM. The grant and matching funds will result in a $26 million investment in the Southwest Chief line.
“I am pleased that Amtrak has released this funding to support the Southwest Chief passenger train route. This route, which passes through Southeast Iowa and has a stop in Ft. Madison, is very important to the area’s economic vitality. Having access to Amtrak routes in rural areas is very important to those communities, along with folks who need an alternative travel option to highways,” said Congressman Dave Loebsack.
“The Southwest Chief line is a critical economic driver in New Mexico that exposes new people to our beautiful landscapes every single day. Amtrak’s funding will ensure the preservation and improvement of this infrastructure and allow this line to continue serving rural New Mexico and the country,” said Congressman Ben Ray Luján.
“The Southwest Chief runs straight through my district and connects rural communities in New Mexico to doctors, grocery stores, goods, and services in other parts of the state. This TIGER IX Grant will make sure that this service continues to link our communities together through an affordable transportation alternative,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland.
“As an affordable alternative transportation option for travelers in the region, this service remains vital for rural and urban communities alike. Some of the most scenic views from Los Angeles to Chicago can be seen in the great state of Colorado along this route and I am pleased to see Amtrak release the funds needed to keep service running for the Southwest Chief passenger train,” said Congressman Scott Tipton.
Earlier this month, Congress passed and the president signed the FY2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related (THUD) Appropriations Act, which included a measure to provide resources for maintenance and safety improvements along the Southwest Chief route and compel Amtrak to fulfill its promise of matching funding for the successful TIGER IX discretionary grant. This grant and matching funds from the partners will result in an investment of more than $26 million in the Southwest Chief. The legislation also prohibits Amtrak from replacing long-distance train service with buses. Previously, Amtrak leadership had proposed replacing train service with bus service along a significant portion of the route.
The Southwest Chief runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, connecting towns and cities across the western United States and providing train and long-distance passenger service, particularly through rural areas.
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