Posts Tagged ‘Alton Illinois Amtrak depot’

Alton Road Depot Being Razed in Alton

November 28, 2017

Demolition of the former Amtrak station in Alton, Illinois, began this week after efforts to find a nonprofit organization to buy and move the station failed.

The 89-year-old depot was once operated by the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad, but is now owned by Union Pacific, which owns the former GM&O tracks through Alton.

The station was built by the Chicago & Alton Railroad and opened in May 1928.

Kristen South, UP director of media relations, said the demolition is expected to take two weeks.

Amtrak had leased the 1,602-square-foot brick structure and parking lot until it began using the Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center on Sept. 13.

UP had said it didn’t want the depot to be used at its current location due to potential liability issues.

Preservationist Terry Sharp sought to save the station. He established a Facebook page devoted to the cause that had 418 members.

Sharp, the president of the Alton Area Landmarks Association, expressed disappointment that the station could not be saved. “I guess I will go out there and take some pictures,” he said.

The AALA included the depot in its house tour brochure in recent years in an effort to spark interest in saving it.

“I would talk to people, but no one, nothing, came up,” he said. “It was about money, and where to put it (station). There was always a circle of questions. It had to go to a not-for-profit, and it had to be moved. To move it would cost $150,000. We tried, but nothing came up. It’s too bad, it would have been nice to save it. It is going to be sad to see an old building torn down.”

In May 2013, the City of Alton signed a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Railroad Administration, Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency, Illinois Department of Transportation and Union Pacific to develop a marketing plan and attempt to help sell the building.

UP agreed to sell the station to a not-for-profit for $1 as a tax write-off provided that the buyer moved the depot at its own expense. UP also demanded that the platform and foundation be removed.

Had a group offered to take possession of the building it would have had up to 12 months to move the structure.

The city in the meantime is documenting the structure in accordance with the Illinois Historic American Building Survey Standards and Guidelines. That work will be placed in archives at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield.

“People talk about how great old train stations are that are still around, but we haven’t gotten a lot of public sentiment,” Sharp said last summer. “I was hoping this would be part of the (April 4) election, but none of the candidates brought it up. We’ve tried, I said I would try, but nothing has clicked.”

The station is located at 3400 College Avenue. Amtrak now uses a facility off Homer Adams Parkway.

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

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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.

Future of Alton Amtrak Station Remains Murky

June 14, 2017

The future of the soon-to-be former Amtrak station in Alton, Illinois, remains murky and city officials say there is little they can do about it.

“The city is out of the loop, the inquiries are to go to Union Pacific,” said Greg Caffey, Alton’s director of development and housing.

UP owns the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio depot and has said it will have it razed if no one comes forward with a plan to move the 89-year-old structure away from its current site at 3400 College Avenue.

The city has been trying to find a new owner for the station, but Caffey said UP has not informed him of any solid offer from a group wanting to buy and move the station.

Calli Hite, director of corporate communications for UP said in a statement that the railroad continues to evaluate options for the depot. “We do not have a timeline for a decision,” she said.

Amtrak leases the station from UP but plans to move this year to the under construction Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center.

The facility is expected to be completed this month although Amtrak and the city have yet to agree on a lease for the national passenger carrier to use it.

Under terms of the $13.85 million federal grant being used to fund development of the new station, it must be completed by June 30.

It is located at the former Robert P. Wadlow Municipal Golf Course, Golf Road at Homer Adams Parkway.

The grant also include money to raze the existing station, but UP would have to pay for that work on it own if it is not completed by Sept. 30.

Caffey said Amtrak would not likely move to the new station until mid or late July.

Terry Sharp, president of Alton Area Landmarks Association, said this week that although his organization has sought to generate interest in saving the College Avenue depot, time appears to be running out.

“We don’t have anything lined up; the last three to four months, myself and the group from Facebook (Save the Alton Train Station) have explored different ways in how to do it,” he said.

A St. Louis company that specializes in moving structures estimates it would cost $150,000 to move the 1,602-square-foot brick station to Gordon F. Moore Community Park or Rock Spring Park.

However, the city has said it doesn’t have any use for the station and therefore doesn’t want to be responsible for it.

UP has said it would sell the station for $1 and take a tax write off, but whoever buys it must pay to move it to a location off railroad property.

Sharp said it is hard to plan to move a building when no one has determined a destination.

“It is kind of a circular problem, trying to find a place to go and figure out a use for it,” he said. “I didn’t want to dump it on the city. They could work out a use for it, maybe it could be a concession stand, maybe they could put it at the entrance to Gordon Moore Park. Maybe they could use it as a clubhouse at Rock Springs Golf Course. I am trying to find a use for it. I am trying to find a place for it. I am going around in circles. I have talked to developers, businessmen and (an attorney) trying to get some interest, trying to pick their brains,” he said.

Sharp said another challenge is overcoming the lack of interest in the community toward saving the depot. “People talk about how great old train stations are that are still around, but we haven’t gotten a lot of public sentiment,” he said. “Maybe when it gets closer to the deadline. I was hoping this would be part of the (April 4) election, but none of the candidates brought it up. We’ve tried, I said I would try, but nothing has clicked.”

Alton Amtrak Outings Set for April 22, 23

March 25, 2017

Two excursions are being planned by the American Association of Railroaders to celebrate the end of Amtrak service to the railroad station in Alton, Illinois, on April 22 and 23.

Passengers will board a Lincoln Service Amtrak train at the Alton depot on both days and spend two hours at a yet to be named site in Missouri for about two hours before turning to Alton late that afternoon.

Capacity is limited and passengers will receive a boxed lunch and beverage. During the trips Rich Eichhorst of the St. Louis-based non-profit educational and historical organization will provide commentary about the railroad and sights along the way.

Ticket are $29 for adults and $24 for children age 11 or younger and can be ordered from AAR, 9600 Tesson Ferry Road, St. Louis MO 63123.

All requests must include the legal name and age of each passenger; choice of travel date; home address and telephone number; and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. For more information, go to: http://www.aarstl.org.

The Alton station, located at 3400 College Ave., was built about 1928 by the Alton Road, later the Gulf Mobile & Ohio.

It is set to be replaced in late June or early July when the Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center opens.

Depot owner Union Pacific Railroad has indicated the station will be razed unless a non-profit agency takes possession of the station and move it to another location.

Alton Seeking Buyer For its Amtrak Station

January 23, 2017

Alton, Illinois, is making a push to save its existing Amtrak station, which once served the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svgThe city has created a marketing brochure with the goal of finding a buyer for the station, which will close once the new Alton Regional Multi Modal Transportation Center opens later this year.

The current depot, located on College Avenue, will close and the city has a year to sell or demolish it.

Because the station is located next to tracks owned by Union Pacific, any buyer will need to follow guidelines established by the railroad as to what uses of the property can be made.

The new owner, though, would have the option of moving the station building to a new location.

The city is working with the Alton Area Landmarks Association in seeking a buyer for the property.

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

New Hotel To be Built Next to Alton Amtrak Depot

November 12, 2016

A hotel will be built adjacent to the Amtrak station in Alton, Illinois.

300px-Lincoln_Service_map.svgThe Hampton Inn by Hilton will have 85 rooms and include free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour business center with complimentary printing, meeting space that can accommodate up to 80 people, and a fitness center.

The hotel will also features the Perfect Mix Lobby, described as an extension of the guestroom with a variety of seating and lighting options for leisure and business travelers.

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

Alton Moving Toward Building New Station

January 13, 2016

Prompted by a Dec. 31 deadline to use a federal grant, an Alton city government committee has recommended seeking bids from contractors to build the Alton Regional Multi-Modal Transportation Center.

The facility, to be used by Amtrak’s Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains, would feature an 8,000-square foot brick station, platform, bus terminal, parking lot and an access road.

Amtrak 4The city received a $13.85 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant that stipulates that the facility must be built by the end of 2016.

The $25 million intermodal station is slated to be constructed on the northeast corner of the former Robert P. Wadlow Municipal Golf Course at Homer Adams Parkway and Golf Road.

Aside from Amtrak, the facility will be used by Madison County Transit District buses and have trailheads for bicyclists and pedestrians

Other funding for the $25 million intermodal facility includes $7.4 million from Federal Railroad Administration and state funds and $1.6 million from the city and the transit agency.

Alton, Ill., Amtrak Station Facing Demolition

January 16, 2014

With a new multimodal station planned to open in Alton, Ill., the existing Amtrak station is facing the prospect of demolition if a buyer is not found who is willing to move it to another location.

“We have two years to try to market that site,” said Greg Caffey, Alton director of development and housing. “We’ve started; we’ve gotten historical documents of the building. We are in the process of getting a consultant approved by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. It has pre-approved the consultant’s document and architectural document of the building. In the next three to six months it (the plan) will be completed.”

In May 2013 the city signed a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Railroad Administration, Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, Illinois Department of Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad for the purpose of creating a marketing plan to attempt to sell the current Amtrak station, which opened in May 1928.

Citing safety concerns, Union Pacific, which owns the tracks at the depot, has said it wants the depot razed or relocated.

Any buyer for the 1,602-square-foot brick station at 3400 College Ave. would have to relocate the structure within 12 months of purchase.

If no one buys the 86-year-old building, it will be demolished. If a buyer fails to move the depot within a year, it will be razed at the owner’s expense.

The agreement says the city will market the building with a preservation covenant, information on its historic and architectural significance of the structure, financial requirements and any financial incentives available from the city for a minimum of 24 months after Alton completes the marketing materials —unless someone buys it before that — and work in consultation with the Railroad Administration, IDOT and UP.

If the building is demolished, the city would document its architecture and history in accordance with the Illinois Historic American Building Survey Standards and Guidelines. The report eventually would be deposited in archives at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. IDOT also would reimburse Union Pacific for its permit fees.

“I think it would be very difficult to relocate that building,” Caffey said. “In all likelihood, it will be demolished, that is the likely outcome,” as the railroad does not want to maintain the facility once vacant.

The station is subject to provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1996 because the city is receiving a federal $13.85 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for the new facility at Wadlow. The project, FRA officials say, will have an adverse effect on the station.

The former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad station is not on National Register of Historic Places. A letter from David Valenstein, division chief for environment and systems planning at U.S. Department of Transportation, to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency says it would be eligible for the designation for its local significance.

Terry Sharp, president of Alton Area Landmarks Association, said he would like to see the building preserved, but admits finding a buyer could be difficult.

“It is not in the Upper Alton Historical District; it has no protection that way,” he said. “At least three presidents have been through that station, as well as other famous people. We’re concerned about it. It is another building built for a particular reason; it looks like a train station and functions as a train station. It would be pretty small as a restaurant.”

Not speaking for AALA, Sharp said he personally would like to see the city move the station to the Wadlow site where it might be used as a coffee shop.

“I would like to see it moved and integrated into the new train station,” Sharp said. “It’s a doable thing. We’d like to see it preserved. It’s another building I worry about. It would be great to save it.”

The planned multi-modal transportation center will serve Amtrak and Madison County Transit District buses. Amtrak’s Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle stop there daily.

The agreement says the FRA and IDOT invited Osage and Miami tribes, Alton Historical Commission and Alton Area Landmarks Association to concur with terms of the agreement.