WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — This week, multiple local and state leaders are in Illinois continuing the push to bring Amtrak to Wichita.
Sedgwick County Commission Chair Pete Meitzner, the Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Senator Carolyn McGinn, and Representative Avery Anderson are attending the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission Annual Meeting.
Nine states met with the Federal Rail Administration (FRA), Amtrak, and others to discuss passenger railways.
Some are looking at updating tracks, others want to add more trains, and in Wichita, the goal is to bring the Heartland Flyer Extension to Wichita to connect to Oklahoma City and the national Amtrak network.
“There is a logical connection in the Amtrak network to connect Oklahoma City to that Southwest Chief connection for an overall connection to Kansas to the national network,” KDOT Divison of Multimodal Transportation and Innovation Director Cory Davis said.
In March, KDOT applied for the FRA’s Corridor ID Program for about $500,000 in funding to help jump-start bringing Amtrak to Wichita.
KDOT said if it’s awarded the funds, it would formalize the partnership with the FRA and Amtrak to finish out the planning process and start preliminary engineering and an environmental review. This is a multi-year process, according to Davis.
“This is more than just Wichita, this helps Kansas’ resume in the transportation world cause these other states are doing things, and these states aren’t slowing down just because Kansas hasn’t got connected,” Meitzner said.
The affordability is a benefit for many wanting to bring passenger trains back to Wichita.
KDOT said it is focused on making this available to underserved communities.
“The economic impact that is generated from this type of project is massive and can change a lot of communities,” Davis said.
Commissioner Meitzner said adding additional transportation will help keep and attract young professionals, helping Kansas stay on track.
KDOT is expected to learn if it is awarded the federal funding in November but said it will still be several years until service is available in Wichita.