Passenger rail service is back on Wichita’s radar, with an eye toward the economic benefits of luring the Heartland Flyer to downtown’s Union Station.
But apparently it’s not on the radar of state transportation officials, the first significant obstacle in what local and state officials admit is a long-term economic development vision.
Wichita City Council member Pete Meitzner is leading the city’s investigation into the viability of passenger rail. The Newton City Commission — Newton is the current Amtrak depot for the area — also has expressed interest in the Heartland Flyer.
And now is the right time to be checking out rail, Meitzner said, with federal officials choosing between two proposed routes to extend the Heartland Flyer line north of Oklahoma City. One route would take the line north through Oklahoma City to Wichita, and the other would miss Wichita and veer off to the northeast through Tulsa and Joplin to St. Louis.
Note: This story was also on the front page of the Arkansas City Traveler for May 31, 2012 as well as the Wichita Eagle for May 27, 2012.