Feasibility Study on Train from NL to IC

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A new study shows a commuter train between Iowa City and North Liberty is financially feasible.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County plans to start its third and final phase of this study in about a month. Members there say will look at the entire scope of the project, including ridership and the number of stops each day.

The tentative plan is for the train to the follow the old CRANDIC Railroad line from North Liberty, to Coralville in Iowa City. The estimated cost for this is around $40 million.

The Penn Street onramp in North Liberty is well known to area commuters.

"I know how messy 380 can be,” Amanda Gallogly said.

Messy enough that many would rather not sit in traffic, and opt for a commuter rail.

"I think it would be a wonderful option,” Gallogly said. "And I have a lot of friends that commute between Iowa City, Coralville and Cedar Rapids. So I know they would appreciate it too."

But the rail wouldn't reach Cedar Rapids, it would stop in North Liberty. The first phase of the study found the rail line would cost too much in the Cedar Rapids area.

"The number of people that go to Iowa City on a daily basis is just growing tremendously,” Matt Haas said.

A bulk of that cost will go to track repairs. The CRANDIC Railroad hasn't run passenger trains for more than 50 years.

An option many are looking foward to even if it was just for entertainment, not work.

"I would. I think going to games at Kinnick or basketball games. You wouldn't have to pay for parking downtown,” Haas said.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County hopes to gather enough information by this fall to finish the entire study. After that, it says it'll have to work with other agencies, like city governments and CRANDIC Railway to approve the project and split the costs.