Iowa City-Chicago Passenger Rail to Incorporate Green Technology

** FILE ** ** ADVANCE FOR NOV. 1 AND 2 AND THEREAFTER ** In this Feb. 20, 2007, file photo, the Capitol Limited Amtrak train arrives in Washington from Chicago. After half a century as more of a curiosity than a convenience, passenger trains are getting back on track in some parts of the country. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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By Kelli Sutterman

IOWA CITY, Iowa - A $310 million project can get you to Chicago from Iowa City in about five hours. Tuesday, Governor Chet Culver made a stop in Iowa City to boast about the new project we first told you about Monday. Here’s a look at the projected route. There would be stops in Iowa City and in the Quad Cities on the way to Chicago.

Initially, the Iowa State Legislature will have to put-up $11.5million dollars. After that, the state will pay $3 million annually. But Governor Culver says it’s a small price to pay for connectivity and preserving the environment.

“Our goal is to be the national leader in renewable energy and energy efficiently,” said Governor Chet Culver.

It’s why Governor Chet Culver says the federal government awarded Iowa $230million in funding to put a new passenger rail route from Iowa City to Chicago.

“This focus in our application really helped us secure this award,” said Culver.

Green technology Iowa Interstate Railroad Vice President Mick Burkart says they’re already using.

“The Iowa Interstate worked with UNI quite a few years ago and developed a soy based lubricant for track switches,” said Iowa Interstate Railroad Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mick Burkart.

The only problem…

“It’s quite a bit expensive than the petroleum base,” said Burkart.

Another push for the new rail link…

“Some percentage of biodiesel fuel to power the locomotive,” said Culver.

“It’s really a non-pollutant if it’s spilled. It’s really just vegetable oil,” said Burkart.

And each stop would also be eco-friendly.

“Depots that are energy efficient maybe using solar panels lead certified building on these new depots,” said Culver.

Amtrak would the front the equipment bill and the Iowa Interstate Railroad would pay for the maintenance. It’s costs for emerging technology.

“There’s always new things being developed,” said Burkart.

Culver and Burkart say the green ideas will likely evolve over the next few years. The first train won’t take off until at least 2013. And 250,000 people are expected to ride this route annually.

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