GREETINGS AND WELCOME:
Passenger Rail Kansas membership looks to the future of regional passenger rail. We support state and regional passenger rail expansion while promoting Southwest Chief train travel.
NEWS FLASH: SOUTHWEST CHIEF STATUS JULY 7, 2014:
Amtrak CEO Boardman and BNSF CEO Rose to visit Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico July 11, 2014 according to the Wichita Business Journal.
THE SOUTHWEST CHIEF IS A FEDERAL RESPONSIBILITY!!!
EXPAND THE HEARTLAND FLYER USING STATE FUNDING!!!
No More Buffett Extorsion!!!
Topeka: 9 a.m.
Newton: 11:15 a.m.
Hutchinson: 11:55 a.m.
Dodge City: 1:45 p.m.
Garden City: 2:45 p.m.
Is this the end of the Amtrak line for Garden City?
INTRODUCTION: The possibility the Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas corridor (TOK-Corridor) will be developed is highly unlikely, at least for the next 10 to 20 years. The region has missed its window. Government claims their hands are tied. The following is offered as evidence:
1) EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE: Kansas Governor Brownback has shown negativity to the project. As a US Senator he issued this letter to a constituent:
2) EXECUTIVE POLICY: The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), is a statutory agency under Governor Brownback's administration, meaning they will defer to his policy. Only veto-proof legislation or a massive campaign to convince the Kansas executive to change his mind will change regional fortunes.
3) HIGHWAYS RULE: The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) represents a highway-centric industry and culture. The same is true of the other plains states DOTs. The need for passenger rail has not been recognized. Kansas legislative project recognition is tepid at best.
4) HSIPR EXHAUSTED: The High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program that would fund the TOK-Corridor expansion has not received federal funding since 2010. In 2009 it was provided $8 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Congress provided another $2.4 billion.
CURRENT HSIPR FUNDING:
5) LENGTHY TIMELINE: The Parsons-Brinckerhoff Service Development Plan (SDP) completed in December 2011 shows a minimum six year schedule to complete just the 197 mile expansion to Newton, KS. Note: even if funding for these studies shown was available, it would be two years before the three states could apply for federal matching funding.
6) KDOT SINGLE POINT OF CONTACT: The Oklahoma and the Texas Departments of Transportation (ODOT & TxDOT) turned over project initiative to KDOT. In other words, KDOT is driving the project. Again, it will require veto-proof legislation to continue even the study process with Kansas Governor Brownback in office. The next step is an environmental clearance, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The City of Wichita has now issued a TIGER VI grant request for a NEPA study. KDOT has been unwilling since 2010 to fund such. The 2013 TIGER grant was not approved.
7) KANSAS LEGISLATURE-STALLED: The Kansas legislature has not considered any legislation since the Kansas Passenger Rail Development Act was signed by Governor Parkinson in 2010. While Senate and House transportation committee meetings and interim studies have addressed passenger rail, little no official legislative action has been taken.
8) UNDEFINED PROCESS: Our understanding is that only after an operational decision is made, and NEPA funding is provided, will any further project progress continue. Will Governor Brownback allow this? Will the Kansas legislature challenge Governor Brownback? This has to happen before further progress can occur.
9) MORE STUDIES: FONSI represents 'Finding Of No Significant Impact.' What this entails and the cost is unknown. However; it is another delay in addition to the Preliminary Engineering and Final Design stages which would follow.
10) REALISTICALLY 10 TO 12 YEARS: Even with a supportive government (Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas governors, legislatures, state DOTs) this plan represents more realistically a 10 to 12 year timeline. Many legislative steps remain in this process. The Texas Legislature is a biennial body. They do not meet in 2013. Funding of even the listed studies will be an issue due to regional budget crises. There has to be a better way.
SUMMARY: The negativity in Kansas is being well played by ODOT. By playing hands off, KDOT is allowed to use anti-passenger rail sentiment in the executive branch to slow the process. Needless to say, the Kansas effort needs a champion to take an aggressive position.
Much of the delay has to do with the intensely complex federal grant process. KDOT seems to be using this complex process to study the project into oblivion. Lengthen a study by a month or two; hesitate just long enough within a legislative session and you can drag a process on indefinitely.
Passenger Rail Kasnas
BROWNBACK OPPOSES KANSAS AMTRAK EXPANSION:
RE: GOVERNOR SAM BROWNBACK OPPOSES KANSAS AMTRAK EXPANSION!!!
While a US Senator, now Kansas Governor Sam Brownback issued a letter stating he is opposed to Amtrak expansion in Kansas:
Click on the letter...
“[U]biquitouspassenger rail service is not necessarily the best use of transportation funds. The overwhelming majority of Kansans rely on our state highway system and freight rail… which is why I believe we should focus our limited resources funding these programs.” ...U.S. Senator (now Kansas Governor) Sam Brownback
contact our executive office at email@example.com
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