The Norman Transcript

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June 22, 2013

Wichita seeks rail extension grant

WICHTA, Kan. — The state of Kansas and Wichita are seeking nearly $13 million in federal money to complete the planning phase of a proposed project that would extend Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer passenger service from Wichita to Oklahoma City.

The project would extend the Heartland Flyer to Wichita and Newton and then connect the Wichita area with the Southwest Chief line to Oklahoma City.

The $12.7 million grant project includes $3 million in matching funds from the Kansas Department of Transportation, which is contingent on $2.3 million in matching funds from Oklahoma. The Wichita City Council is expected to formally support the application Tuesday and a decision is expected in about three months, The Wichita Eagle reported.

The city and state are seeking part of $473.8 million in federal TIGER, or Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, grants, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website.

“We’re going to have a lot of competition for the money,” said Wichita Vice Mayor Pete Meitzner, who has led the city’s efforts to land passenger rail service. “There’s not a big bucket there — maybe $500 million or so — but the good news is that there are only 10 or 11 other applications that relate to passenger rail.”

If the grant is received, it would fund the final design phase of the project.

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