Archive for the ‘Amtrak stations’ Category

Bus Service Begins at New Alton Station

August 10, 2017

The new intermodal station has opened in Alton, Illinois, but no date has been set as to when Amtrak will begin using it.

The local transit system in Madison County, Illinois, began using the facility on Aug. 6 and Amtrak expects to begin stopping there within the next few weeks.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the passenger carrier is likely to begin using the new facility in September but first must inspect it and agree to a lease with the City of Alton.

The new station is located at the site of the old city golf course near Homer Adams Parkway and is about two miles northwest of the existing Amtrak station.

Amtrak currently uses the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio depot at 3400 College Avenue. The 89-year-old station is in danger of being razed once Amtrak pulls out of it.

Union Pacific has offered to give the station away to a group that will move it from the site.

But that will cost at least $150,000 and thus far no one has offered a plan to save the station, said Terry Sharp, president of the Alton Area Landmarks Association.

“Maybe it’ll take bringing the wrecking ball right up against the building to get people interested,” Sharp said.

Alton is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Among the features of the new Alton station  are lockers for bicyclists, a pay parking lot and surveillance cameras. Nearby is green space and biking and hiking trails.

City officials hope the 55-acre former golf course site will draw development of new stores, offices and housing.

The project, including associated road improvements, cost about $24 million, which includes the $3.4 million value of the land.

The American Association of Railroaders is planning an outing to mark the end of Amtrak service at the ex-GM&O station and the startup of service at the new Alton station.

“We like to do firsts and lasts related to transportation,” President Rich Eichhorst said, adding that his group’s members rode the last train from St. Louis Union Station in 1978.

Eichhorst believes the last Amtrak train from the Alton GM&O station will be a late-night run from Alton to St. Louis.

The AAR plans to ride from St. Louis to Alton or vice versa or from Alton to Carlinville or the reverse.

The AAR will will sell tickets covering a short train-trip leg and a ride back on its bus with Eichhorst providing commentary.

Tickets are expected to be $25 and limited to 40 people.

Anyone interested  should send a self-addressed stamped envelope to AAR, 9600 Tesson Ferry Road, St. Louis, Mo., 63123, and indicate preference for the last train from the old station or the first train using the new one or both.

Prospective riders should also include their telephone number in case only short notice is given regarding Amtrak’s station change.

Roanoke Studying Parking Near Amtrak Station

July 21, 2017

Although Roanoke, Virginia, officials say there is ample parking in the vicinity of the new Amtrak station in town, much of it isn’t free.

Officials say some parking at or near the station will be free, but it is expected to fill up quickly just before the train leaves town early in the morning for Washington.

Two parking garages within walking distance of the station charge between $6 to $8 for each 24 hours used. However, those and some other municipally owned lots are unattended late at night, during which time it is possible to exit without paying.

Amtrak plans to begin serving Roanoke on Oct. 31. The station platform it will use is currently under construction.

A consultant hired by the city found two years ago that there are 1,755 parking spaces within a block or two of Norfolk Avenue between Jefferson and Second streets, where the Amtrak platform is located.

On a typical day, 877 of those spaces are taken by 11 a.m. Brian Townsend, an assistant city manager, said the parking situation is again under review.

“We understand the need to direct rail patrons to where parking is available,” Townsend said by email. “We are not certain, at this point, that it will be free parking as ownership, management, and availability at the various locations will be determining factors.”

Station Agent Removed at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

July 19, 2017

Amtrak removed it ticket agent from the station in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, earlier this year.

The station, which is served by the Chicago-Emeryville California Zephyr, will have a caretaker who will be available at the station an hour before and after train arrivals and departures to answer questions about Amtrak service.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said passengers will continue to have access to the station waiting area one hour before all train arrivals and one hour after train departure.

Amtrak personnel on the train will assist customers in boarding and detraining. They also will provide trainside checked baggage and bike service.

Baggage tags are available inside the station. Customers will check and retrieve their baggage and bikes with an employee at the baggage car.

The closest station to Mount Pleasant that still has an agent is 60 miles to the southeast in Fort Madison, Iowa.

PennDOT Seeks Proposals for TOD on Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor

July 18, 2017

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will seek proposals for transit-oriented development at one or more Amtrak stations on the carrier’s Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Locations to be considered include Harrisburg, Elizabethtown, Mount Joy, Lancaster, Parkesburg and Downingtown

A PennDOT news release said that transit oriented development opportunities could involve soliciting a private partner to provide operation and maintenance services; allowing a private partner to provide parking upgrades either through surface lot expansion or with the construction of parking garage; and if deemed feasible, the ability to provide both residential or commercial development.

One project has already been approved by the state for the station in Middletown.

PennDOT will review proposals to consider market soundness to determine whether to proceed on an individual station basis or whether to bundle more than one station into an agreement.

Norman Depot Renovations Completed

July 13, 2017

Renovation work has been completed to the former Santa Fe Depot in Norman, Oklahoma, that is used by Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer.

The depot was built in 1909. A grand reopening festival will be held on Friday to commemorate the completion of the renovation work.

The Back on Track celebration will coincide with the city’s monthly art walk. A schedule of events is available at http://www.2ndfridaynorman.com

There will be an opening reception for “Variations on Themes,” a collection of paintings by artist Jim Cobb. Free appetizers will be served, along with libations provided by Norman’s 405 Brewing Co. and Native Spirits Winery. Live music will be provided in the portico by members of the Songwriters Association of Norman.

A raffle to raising money to pay for gallery lighting and stages will have as one of its top prizes an Amtrak voucher for a round trip to Fort Worth, Texas, for two.

The Heartland Flyer operates daily between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth.

Normal to Buy Vehicle to Transport Passengers at Station

July 7, 2017

The Normal, Illinois, city council has approved the purchase of an electric vehicle to shuttle Amtrak passengers between the station and a platform that is currently under construction.

The vehicle, which will cost $26,000, will be used to transport passengers with disabilities or limited mobility.

However, the platform that the vehicle will serve isn’t expected to open for service until late October or early November.

City Manager Mark Peterson said the vehicle needed to be ordered now because it will be three months before it is delivered.

The vehicle will transport passengers to and from the south platform from the station via the Broadway Avenue or Linden Street crossings.

The vehicle will be operated by Amtrak employees and Peterson said Amtrak asked the city to buy the vehicle.

When some council members questioned why the city would spend its funds for the vehicle, Peterson said, “Amtrak has a very inflexible budget.”

He said Amtrak doesn’t pay rent at the station, although it does pay for its use of utilities, and city officials consider that a reasonable cost of having the service.

“We see other uses in the uptown area if the Amtrak use goes away,” said Public Works Director Wayne Aldrich.

The $2.5 million new platform is being funded by federal money as part of a high-speed rail project that is wrapping up this year.

Normal is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service and the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Schenectady Amtrak Station Being Razed

July 7, 2017

The Amtrak station in Schenectady, New York, is being razed in preparation for the building of a new depot on the site.

Passengers are now using a temporary platform to board trains and the station’s parking lot has been transformed into a construction site that is blocked off with fencing.

Amtrak said parking at the interim boarding site is limited and the ticket office for Schenectady has been closed. Passengers are advised to arrive more than 30 minutes early and to plan on being picked up and dropped off.

Construction of the new station is occurring in two phases, the first of which will cost $5.4 million and involve demolishing the current Amtrak-built station, making concrete and structural repairs along the existing station platform, and installing new concrete culverts underneath the tracks.

The second phase involves construction of the new station. Bidding on that project is expected to begin this fall. The new station is projected to open in late 2018.

The new station is on the site of the former Union Station that was torn down and replaced in 1979 by a modular facility built by Amtrak.

Amtrak handled about 60,000 passengers per year in Schenectady, which is served by Empire Service trains to and from Niagara Falls, New York; the Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited; the New York-Montreal Adirondack; and the New York-Rutland, Vermont, Ethan Allen Express.

Metra to Show Plans to Renovate Homewood Station

July 6, 2017

Metra plans to renovate the station that it shares with Amtrak in Homewood, Illinois.  The commuter rail agency will give the public a preview of the plans during a meeting at 7 p.m. on July 10 in the board room at Homewood Village Hall, 2020 Chestnut Road.

The former Illinois Central station is used by the Metra Electric line and Amtrak’s City of New Orleans, Illini and Saluki. Built in 1923, the station serves 1,200 Metra passengers a day.

Among the renovations being considered are reconstruction of the east and west entrances, installation of new stairs and ADA compliant ramps, new stairs leading to the Amtrak platform, and reconstruction of the Amtrak platform and canopy.

Other work will include installation of water seepage barriers and a drainage system in the tunnel, new tunnel walls, ceiling and lighting; and reconfiguration of parking on the Park Avenue side of the station.

Although rebuilding of the Amtrak facilities is expected to begin in 2018, Metra won’t work on its own part of the station until funds are available.

Metra completed interim repairs to the Homewood station in 2015, including replacing all the steps on the metal stairway that connects the pedestrian tunnel with the platform; replacing all of the ceiling tiles above those stairs; cleaning, sealing and painting all windows above the stairs; repairing and painting stucco; painting areas throughout the station; painting ceiling tiles at the east and west entrances; and adding LED bulbs in the tunnel.

Ann Arbor Sets New Schedule for Station Study

June 24, 2017

Although Ann Arbor officials have already missed one of their self-imposed deadlines, they continue to insist that there is still time to finish an environmental assessment for a new Amtrak station by late July.

That report will narrow three potential sites for the new depot to one.

Last month Ann Arbor City Administrator Howard Lazarus said the goal was to have the assessment ready for public release by June 19.

That didn’t happen but Lazarus told the Ann Arbor City Council this week that staff has made progress on the report and is working with the Federal Railroad Administration and the Michigan Department of Transportation to get it finished as soon as possible.

Among the locations being reviewed for the new station are the existing Amtrak station site on Depot Street, a location in Fuller Park in front of the University of Michigan Hospital and the former Michigan Central station on Depot Street that now houses the Gandy Dancer restaurant.

Lazarus said city staff and AECOM, a consultant helping the city prepare the environmental assessment report, have completed various revisions and are expected to have a complete draft ready to send to the FRA shortly after June 22.

“FRA will complete their review of the resubmitted and revised documents and schedule a call with the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office,” Lazarus wrote in a memo to the council. “MISHPO has the authority to make determinations on the implications of the proposed design alternatives on historic resources. The current draft documents reflect the current state of consideration recognizing specific detail regarding impacts on historic resources.”

The FRA review of the assessment is expected to take a couple of weeks.

“Once the FRA management signs off on the document, the materials are ready for public review,” he wrote in the council memo.

The environmental assessment will be made available on a project website, at city hall and during three public meetings.

Ann Arbor is facing a Sept. 30 deadline to use a federal grant to pay for preliminary engineering designs. Any money not spent by that date will revert back to the federal treasury.

Lazarus said the preliminary engineering work began on May 22.

City officials hope to begin a 30-day public comment period about the environmental assessment on July 30 with public meetings held in August.

The preliminary engineering work would continue into December.

Lazarus said the city, MDOT and the FRA have agreed to a “tapered match” approach for having federal funds cover all of the costs of ongoing work through the grant-funding period, after which the city will spend more local dollars to complete the remaining work.

That anticipates that 80 percent of the work will be federally funded and 20 percent locally funded.

After the FRA has approved a plan for a new station, Ann Arbor officials will put the project to a vote in an election. The city plans to seek federal funds to cover  most of the costs for final design and construction.

 

Waterloo to Hold Open House on June 25

June 20, 2017

The Waterloo, Indiana, Amtrak station will celebrate its first anniversary with an open house on June 25.

The station is located inside a former New York Central depot that was renovated by the city during a 10-year project.

The project, which was funded in part by a federal TIGER grant, involved moving the depot closer to the Amtrak boarding platform.

The open house will be held from 2-4 p.m. and feature refreshments, door prizes and historical information about the station.

More than 20,000 passengers board at the Waterloo every year. The station is served by Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited.