GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — United States Senator Jerry Moran visited western Kansas Wednesday. He met with local officials and discussed how federal dollars are being utilized within the area’s transportation industry.

Both Amtrak and Garden City Regional Airport are vital resources for southwest Kansas communities. The transportation hubs connect thousands of people in rural areas to cities around the country. Although traveling has been hit hard by COVID-19, good news is on the way for the area.

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief runs a course from Chicago to Los Angeles, cutting through the heart of many small Kansas towns.

Moran announced the rail line will be running back on schedule, seven days a week.

This comes after the agency was forced to temporarily stop daily services after seeing a 43% drop in riders during the pandemic. 

“When you’re in the middle of the country, it is important in having ways that we can connect with the rest of the world,” Moran said. “It matters to our economy, it matters to our health, our well-being.”

At the Garden City Regional Airport, the aviation hub is taking $17.9 million in CARES Act money and putting it toward construction for a new terminal.

The airport hopes to grow its existing $36.2 million economic impact on the community.

The new terminal will feature upgraded security, safety, and passenger accommodations. The update will start in October and will take place in two phases.

“It is critical to provide an airport infrastructure that puts a good first impression for those folks, that will help develop our community,” said Rachelle Powell, Director of Aviation, Garden City Regional Airport.

Moran says Amtrak and the airport are imperative for the area’s continued growth and keeping Kansans connected.

“Most people in Kansas would think that an airport is a luxury. But the reality is an airport, for the way we live our lives, for connecting with the world, for our future economics, it’s not just a luxury, it’s an essential,” Moran said. “This helps us keep businesses in southwest Kansas.”

The Southwest Chief will return to daily service starting May 31, and with the new terminal upgrades, officials say they hope it will bring in larger flights in the future.