Garden City part of group fighting for Southwest Chief

4/30/2014

By SCOTT AUST

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

Garden City and three other Kansas communities are seeking a federal grant as part of a coalition that includes Colorado communities and private organizations designed to repair portions of Amtrak's Southwest Chief and keep the service operating along its current route.

The coaliton, which includes Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, Amtrak and KDOT, has pledged $9.3 million in matching funds toward $24.5 million in federal grants to keep the Chief running through Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico.

Garden City Mayor Roy Cessna said the city is working on trying to keep the Southwest Chief going through Garden City. The city will provide matching funds should the grant application be successful.

Ashley Freburg, communications specialist with the city of Garden City, said four Kansas communities — Garden City, Dodge City, Newton and Hutchinson — each have agreed to provide $12,500 toward the local matching amount.

"The match improves the chances of getting the grant," Freburg said. "If we get the grant, then we will pay that much toward the project."

The city applied for a U.S. Department of Transportation Tiger (Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery) grant last year but did not receive funding. This year, the city hired the Seneca Group, grant writers based in Washington, D.C., who wrote the grant application.

Garden City and Finney County officials traveled to Washington, D.C., in March as part of the annual western Kansas legislative delegation. As part of that trip, officials met with the Seneca Group, Amtrak and BNSF representatives about the Southwest Chief and the Tiger grant, according to Freburg.

If awarded, the funds would restore 54.9 miles of track between Hutchinson and Las Animas, Colo.

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