Equipment Storage Site in Burlington Remains Elusive

Vermont transportation officials continue to study where to store Amtrak equipment laying over in Burlington, Vermont, between runs.

Although Amtrak does not operate into Burlington now, the state has proposed extending the New York-Rutland, Vermont, Ethan Allen Express 68 miles north to Burlington.

Officials have looked at six options and appear to be favoring building a new siding near the McNeil Generating Station just west of Intervale Road or a new siding adjacent to Burlington Union Station.

Both options have drawn opposition, particularly the location next to the station.

Much of that has come from Main Street Landing, which owns property east of the railroad tracks.

MSL said noise and engine emissions from the train’s locomotive would be within 14 feet of apartments in the Wing Building south of the station.

Extending the Ethan Allen Express to Burlington would also bring service to Middlebury and Vergennes.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation wants to implement the extension by the end of 2021.

A decision on where to store the train overnight had been expected by late 2019, but has been delayed.

VTrans now doesn’t expect a decision to be made until late March.

“The state is giving the city more time to consider all of the options more thoroughly,” said city spokeswoman Olivia LaVecchia.

Other options for storing the train include the Vermont Rail System freight yard just south of the station, a rail spur in Burlington’s south end, and two sites in the city’s Urban Reserve, north of the station.

In the meantime, host railroad VRS plans to rebuild the track and work on signals on the mainline track at the station.

VRS leases from the right of way upon which is tracks are located between College Street in Burlington to Bennington.

The railroad has notified the city that it plans to terminate the city’s lease for the alignment of the Burlington Greenway bike path, which uses part of the right of way east of the mainline tracks.

VRS plans to realign the tracks to reduce a sharp curve south of the station.

If the equipment for the Ethan Allen is stored elsewhere other than by the station, VSR officials have indicated that it might not build a siding there that would house the train overnight.

The Ethan Allen equipment could also be taken 32 miles north of Burlington to St. Albans, Vermont, where the equipment for Amtrak’s Vermonter is stored overnight.

However, VTrans has indicated it wants to store the Ethan Allen equipment somewhere in Burlington.

VTrans is facing a late 2021 deadline to launch the Ethan Allen extension or facing having to return $10 million in federal funding it received for the extension of the route to Burlington.

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