Posts Tagged ‘Bristol Virginia’

Bristol Pushing for Amtrak Feasibility Study

January 17, 2018

City officials in Bristol, Virginia, are seeking proposals from consulting firms to study the potential for Amtrak service.

“We have now moved into an RFP (request for proposals) process, and the RFP process is for an economic feasibility study. And the economic feasibility study will give us data on everything from how it is going to affect traffic patterns to how many cups of coffee are going to be sold downtown. So, this is going to be the tool that we use to keep interest in Amtrak and passenger rail in Bristol,” said Bart Poe, assistant director of community and economic development in the city of 17,000 located on the Virginia-Tennessee border.

Proposals are due by Jan. 23 and city officials hope to have the result of the study by late August. The study will be presented to Amtrak and state officials.

“We know that at this point, we are not high on their list of priorities; there is a lot of stuff in the east that needs to be done, but we hope that this will start moving us up the list of their priorities,” Poe said. “And, the great thing is, if you look at the websites, Amtrak’s website, DRPT, we’re listed there. It shows us, it shows us on the track, so it is not something that we’re just throwing up. This is something that they are aware of and interested in.”

Bristol is not current served by Amtrak and city officials hope that it could be added to a new route to Atlanta.

Fueling their optimism about getting into the Amtrak network has been the success of state-funded services to Lynchburg and Roanoke.

Poe said Lynchburg has surpassed expectations every year since Northeast Regional service began in 2009 and Roanoke has had good ridership numbers since serve began there last October.

“That’s the good thing for us. We’re the next logical step toward Atlanta, so what they want to do is they want to connect the lower states to the upper states with a more direct route,” Poe said, “There was a pretty big lag between Roanoke and Lynchburg, and we hope that ours will be shorter. We anticipate maybe four years. We would like to see and Amtrak train roll in and pick up passengers in four years.”

Poe said the renovated Bristol train station has the space to accommodate Amtrak.



Bristol Eyes Luring Amtrak to Come to Town

April 20, 2017

Public officials in Bristol, Virginia, plan to launch a study of what it would take to entice Amtrak to serve their region.

City officials plan to work with the Community Transportation Association of America in Washington to secure a consulting firm that will undertake a $450,000 economic benefit study of extending Amtrak’s Northeast Regional service from Roanoke, Virginia, to Bristol.

“We’re just about ready to prepare the RFP [request for proposals] for that study, and hopefully it will begin this summer,” CTAA spokesman Rich Sampson said Tuesday. “What we’re hoping our study will do is be a precursor to a second study, by demonstrating the need and the benefits of such a service. DRPT [Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation] would then do a study on the operational feasibility of the service.”

Amtrak expects to begin serving Roanoke later this year by extending a Northeast Regional train that now terminates in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Sampson said the state of Virginia is going to want two years of ridership data of the Roanoke service before it will participate in the Bristol study.

Bristol Mayor Bill Hartley said having Amtrak service would benefit his city in many ways.

“I look at what passenger rail could do for our downtown,” he said. “With two hotels, one hopefully opening this year, and the restaurants and entertainment, the infrastructure is there for people to come and make Bristol more of a destination.”

Some funding for the study will come from a $250,000 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, a $100,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission and $50,000 each from the city and CTAA, with CTAA also providing services as an in-kind contribution.

Once it gets underway, the Bristol study is expected to take six to nine months to complete.

“Virginia is perhaps the leading state right now in investing in new Amtrak service,” Sampson said. “They have three examples of where they have or are going to install new service — the Lynchburg train, the Norfolk train and the extension to Roanoke. Tennessee has not had any state support for inter-city passenger rail, so their level of involvement and interest is uncertain at this point.”

Although Bristol leaders once talked about getting support for service further southward to Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then creating a connecting service to Atlanta and Louisville, those routes won’t be part of the expected study of extending service from Roanoke.

Sampson said that expansion to Tennessee point won’t happen unless rail service first comes to Bristol.