Image courtesy: Amtrak

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The new $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure package signed into by law this week President Joe Biden is reviving talk about the return of Amtrak passenger service. And the idea of traveling from Louisville to Chicago by train is no longer off the rails.

Sen. David Yates, a Louisville Democrat who sits on the Senate Transportation Committee, said Amtrak has been on the wish list ever since it left town in 2003.

“I think this is a big boost to increase the likelihood of that happening,” Yates said. “I think it's going to draw in new people, new investment opportunities, new jobs and, really, growth."

The infrastructure law includes $66 billion for Amtrak. Earlier this year, the rail service released a possible expansion map, which included a route connecting Louisville to Indianapolis and Chicago.

“What's attractive about Louisville, obviously, is we're on a corridor already — the I-65 corridor,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.

But during an online briefing Louisville's Washington lobbyist, Jennifer Covino, flashed caution lights.

“While Amtrak seeks to expand its national network to cities such as Louisville, what I would encourage Metro government to do now is to have conversations at the state level," she said. "Because you will need their partnership to facilitate any expansion."

Yates said he is already having conversations with the state Transportation Cabinet.

“We know that we'll be one of the finalists. We've got to get our act together,” he said. “The state and local government needs to be working together to have a plan in place of how we could implement this — not just put it here but to make sure we can support it.”

Fischer said the competition for Amtrak among cities will be fierce.

“As a large metro area, we'll be one that, I'm sure, will be considered. But it will be very competitive,” he said. “I don't know what our chances are for something like this, but we'll certainly take a look at it and compete.”

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