Unlocking Economic Potential through the CRANDIC Railway

Posted May 14, 2024
CRANDIC in Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty Iowa

The greater Iowa City area has a unique asset that connects Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty together – a short line railroad historically named the “CRANDIC.” With its name stemming from “Cedar Rapids and Iowa City,” the company was established in 1904. This type of short line railroad plays a crucial role in the economic development of regions they serve. For example, the CRANDIC has been a vital link for industries ranging from manufacturing to agriculture and beyond across our region. Its strategic location and connections to other major railways enable efficient freight transportation, supporting local businesses and industries. Currently, the railway supports freight north of the Iowa City area and underground infrastructure throughout the region. However, it is an underutilized yet unique resource running through North Liberty, Coralville, and Iowa City.


As we think ahead to our future needs, Greater Iowa City, Inc. (Greater IC) believes CRANDIC holds considerable potential for commuter passenger rail services, which can further stimulate economic development. Our region continues to grow and our largest employer, the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, is opening a new facility in North Liberty that will need to address critical parking and transportation needs for its workforce. In addition, the local community has identified the importance of an accessible and mobile transportation system in Pillar 3 of the All In Vision Plan, which continues to drive our focus.


Introducing commuter rail services utilizing existing rail infrastructure can alleviate traffic congestion, reduce carbon emissions, and improve connectivity within the region before the municipalities are fully built out and this current option is too costly or no longer accessible. For a growing community like the Iowa City area, commuter rail can enhance accessibility to jobs, education, and recreational opportunities – fostering a more vibrant and connected local economy.


Incorporating commuter rail services into the CRANDIC network would not only benefit residents but also attract new businesses and investors to the area. Improved connectivity and accessibility can enhance the region’s appeal as a place to live, work, and do business. Furthermore, commuter rail can stimulate transit-oriented development around rail stations, leading to increased property values and commercial activity. By recognizing the potential of short line railroads for both freight and passenger transportation, we have a unique opportunity to leverage these assets to promote economic growth and enhance quality of life for residents. Want to learn more? Get involved.