Infrastructure Developments

The Southwest Chief Route Improvement Project

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The City of Garden City, Kansas requests $14,969,963 in TIGER funds for the Southwest Chief Route Improvement Project. These funds will be applied to the La Junta Subdivision of the Kansas Division of the BNSF Railway. They will restore 54.9 miles of the 158 miles of bolted rail sections between Hutchinson, KS and Las Animas, CO to FRA Class IV condition with continuous welded relay rail, new turnouts, and panelized grade crossings. This grant will be combined with $9,300,000 of state, local, and private funds for a total 38.3% match. The rehabilitation effort will preserve the passenger service of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief long distance train through central Kansas and southeastern Colorado. 

The grant is 100% rural; the restored track falls outside urban zones. The project should meet the requirements of a NEPA categorical exclusion and can be fully completed before the end of 2015. If awarded, the TIGER grant will make a substantial difference to the quality of rail passenger service in Kansas and south eastern Colorado, arresting the decline in the route since the magic and romance of the famous Santa Fe Railway’s Super Chief. Speeds have dropped from 90 MPH in 2002 to 60 MPH today and are in imminent danger of dropping again to 30 MPH…slower than a farm tractor. If this decline is not reversed, the train will be terminated or rerouted. The general public is becoming increasingly aware of this situation; politicians and the media are building public sentiment for a call to action. The TIGER grant provides the final piece of a program to reverse the trend, triggering matching contributions from Amtrak, the Kansas Department of Transportation, and the BNSF Railway. The pooled resources of these entities, along with matches from local communities, represent a competent team to take on this challenge.

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290-298 N Main







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