WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Rail service returning to Wichita is now a possibility since President Biden signed the massive infrastructure bill. Leaders in Kansas are hoping it will happen, as the state will get $272 million dollars for public transportation.
Harvey County Commission Chairman Chip Westfall said the signing of the bill has greatly improved the possible extension of the Heartland Flyer from Fort Worth, Texas to Newton. He said it is not a done deal yet.
“I was excited, enthused for all the railfans. But, I am enthused for Kansas, enthused for everyone on the route,” said Commissioner Westfall.
Sedgwick County Commissioner Pete Meitzner is also enthused.
“We are hoping in working with Amtrak and the federal rail administration FRA to see what it is going to take to make sure we are in that first group of construction projects,” said Meitzner.
Now that the infrastructure bill has passed, Meitzner said the Federal Rail Administration has 18 months to put together their rules and qualifications before states submit applications. Meitzner said Wichita just makes sense for expansion.
“When you get Dallas connecting to Oklahoma City, connecting to Wichita, connecting with Kansas City, those are the numbers that work for Amtrak,” said Meitzner.
Commissioner Westfall said the Newton is already looking to provide services that expand the Amtrak train station site in light of the Heartland Expansion.
“When Amtrak came on board the Heartland Flyer project about three years ago, they majorly saw the value in it and they have been a great help pushing this up their ladder of expansion,” said Westfall.
Both commissioners said if there are enough travelers when this path expands, Amtrak will add more daily trips to the area. For now, the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will need to work together on the application to make travel through Wichita possible.