Northern Flyer Alliance reps meet in Wichita

Will Peabody be a passenger stop once again?

Representatives from south central Kansas and north central Oklahoma communities met in downtown Wichita for a presentation and discussion of the process involved in the possible expansion of Amtrak passenger rail service from Kansas City to Dallas/Ft. Worth.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has announced that it will fund an Amtrak feasibility study for the proposed expansion of the passenger rail service.

The study will begin in the mid to late part of this summer and is expected to take at least six months to complete. Amtrak is expected to submit its report in early 2009 for funding consideration by the Kansas Legislature.

Directors of Northern Flyer Alliance and Ron Kaufman of KDOT indicated the expansion of passenger rail service has become an issue of national interest and legislative priority. Currently, there are two bills in Congressional committees regarding the expansion initiative.

The first bill, titled the Passenger Rail Improvement and Reform Act includes a key provision, a 50-50 federal/state funding mechanism for passenger rail expansion in the United States.

The second, known as the Lott-Lautenburg SB-294 Passenger Rail Improvement and Investment Act, passed the U.S. Senate on Oct. 30, and is now in the U.S. House Transportation Subcommittee.

It provides for an unprecedented 80-20 federal/state matching funding for passenger rail service expansion. U.S. Congressman Jerry Moran is a member of the House Transportation Subcommittee and has been supportive of North Flyer Alliance efforts.

Peabody has joined 21 other Kansas communities in passing resolutions in support of the expansion of passenger rail service and will submit a proposal to Amtrak to become a regularly scheduled, daily stop on any expanded line. Peabody councilman Leslie LaFoy is the community representative to the NFA.

Peabody's proposal is due to Amtrak and KDOT by June 15. It will be developed by LaFoy, Economic Development chairman Larry Larsen, and Peabody Main Street Association interim director Shane Marler.

In the coming weeks the proposal development committee will be circulating petitions and collecting signatures in support for Peabody becoming a passenger stop. Petitions will be available at the information booth at during the upcoming Operation Celebration.

In addition, the committee encourages citizens to write Congressman Moran and Kaufman of KDOT to personally express support for both the expansion of the rail passenger service and for making a Peabody a rail stop.

The addresses to contact them are: Ron Kaufman, Public Involvement Administrator, Kansas Department of Transportation, 700 SW Harrison, 2-West, Topeka 66603-3754, (or email or fax 785-296-0287; and The Honorable Jerry Moran, 1 North Main, Suite 525, PO Box 1128, Hutchinson 67504-5228, or fax (620) 665-6360

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