Suppose an Amtrak route stretching from Chicago to Moline one day reaches Iowa City. In that case, it’s safe to mark Greg Shill, associate professor of law at the University of Iowa, down as a supporter. “I think the potential upside is immense for our city, the Corridor and the Quad Cities to connect our […]
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Suppose an Amtrak route stretching from Chicago to Moline one day reaches Iowa City. In that case, it’s safe to mark Greg Shill, associate professor of law at the University of Iowa, down as a supporter.
“I think the potential upside is immense for our city, the Corridor and the Quad Cities to connect our state with the economic and cultural capital of the Midwest,” said Mr. Shill. “It would have potentially substantial implications for employment, meaning more jobs, and also just quality of life.”
He believes that the ability to avoid the highway at times is highly beneficial on multiple fronts.
“I think it’s hard to see the downside of this,” he said. “We spend so much money on highways; You know, that new I-80/I-380 Systems Interchange Project cost is just gargantuan.” The interchange project is expected to be completed in 2024 at a total cost of $387 million.
“Let’s be realistic,” he added. “By the time it’s completed, that number is going to go up, and it’s taking forever. The advantages of the project are pretty limited in that it allows you to change from highway to the other at a slightly higher speed. It’s going to save each person 30 seconds, and it’s really emblematic of highway spending in this country.”
In Mr. Shill’s opinion, the train service project is unique and offers a more cost-effective option.
Train service from Iowa City to Chicago allows those who are not car owners, college students and senior citizens to move freely between both cities, resulting in more economic activity. In addition, as remote work continues to evolve, workers may be able to live in Iowa City for a Chicago-based job, as long as they take the train to the office periodically for meetings. Passengers could even get work done during the train ride – something they couldn’t do if they were driving.
Interest and enrollment may increase at the University of Iowa, too.
“If students could easily come and go, maybe that influences their decision to come to UI from out of state,” he said. “Suppose the student doesn’t have a car. This lets a student hop on a train and come home pretty easily. Also, it may increase a parent’s comfort level with sending their child further away for college.”
Train service would take some cars off the road, meaning there is potential to reduce traffic deaths and reduce emissions. That benefits the entire population, whether a person chooses to utilize a train service or not, said Mr. Shill.