Posts Tagged ‘Fort Madison Iowa’

Fort Madison Reaches Pact for New Station

April 11, 2019

Amtrak and the City of Fort Madison, Iowa, have reached agreements on moving the city’s station stop to a historic depot in downtown.

The city council approved three separate agreements with Amtrak, including a lease agreement, a sublease agreement, and a revitalization agreement.

City Manager David Varley said the agreements provide that Fort Madison will construct a passenger platform at the downtown depot that Amtrak will lease for 20 years.

The city will be responsible for all maintenance, upkeep and repairs.

Amtrak will pay the city $150,000 for the platform and $400 a month in rent and utilities.

The city will give to the platform to BNSF, which will lease it to Amtrak.

If the lease is terminated, the city will surrender the platform to Amtrak.

Although the city has reached agreements with Amtrak in past on station changes, Varley said these agreements are different because instead of suggesting more changes, “[Amtrak] said it will sign it immediately and then [the agreements] will go to the Iowa Department of Transportation.”

The estimated cost for the new platform is $1.2 million. Past efforts to move the Amtrak stop were thwarted by the city being $400,000 short in funding for the project.

The city was almost ready to give up when the Iowa Department of Transportation said it had grant money the city could use to make up the shortfall.

IDOT is expected to put the platform construction project out for bid this summer once it receives all of the signed agreements.

Fort Madison is served by Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, which currently stops at a facility on 20th Street.

Fort Madison Eyes Grant Extension for Platform Project

May 30, 2018

Fort Madison, Iowa, may need to request an extension of time to use a state grant that it plans to use to build a new platform at the city’s Amtrak station.

The new platform would be built closer to downtown.

However, the city is a few months from a deadline to spend the grant money it received for the project and BNSF, which owns tracks served by the platform, has yet to approve the platform design.

City Manager David Varley said the $750,000 Iowa Department of Transportation grant may be lost if the extension to use it is not approved. The state grant constitutes more than half of the project’s funding.

“As soon as we get these approved plans turned in, we’ve got everything on our end worked out and ready to turn in,” Varley said. “We are still trying to shoot for a date at the end of the year.”

Fort Madison is served by Amtrak’s Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief and averages 17 passengers a day. The city hopes that a more favorable location for the boarding site will increase ridership.

Ticket Offices Closing Being Posted

May 14, 2018

Amtrak is starting to roll out the notices of ticket office closing. At none of the five ticket offices set to close will checked baggage continue to be available.

The office in Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas, will close on May 16. Offices in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Garden City, Kansas, will close on May 17. The office in Ottumwa, Iowa, will close on May 18 while the office in Topeka, Kansas, will be shuttered on May 19.

In all cities the station waiting room will continue to be open at train time, typically 30 minutes before a train’s arrival. The waiting room will remain open for two hours.

However, in Garden City, the waiting room will be open from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that personnel on the train will assist customers boarding and detraining.

Fort Madison, Topeka and Garden City are on the route of the Southwest Chief, Ottumwa is on the route of the California Zephyr and Texarkana is served by the Texas Eagle.

Fort Madison Reaches Pacts for New Boarding Platform

November 8, 2017

Officials in Fort Madison, Iowa, have approved three agreements that will make possible moving the Amtrak station to the former Santa Fe depot.

City Manager David Varley said the agreements will provide for construction of a new platform that Amtrak will use once it is completed. The passenger carrier has agreed to pay $150,000 toward the construction costs.

Amtrak also has agreed to pay $400 month in rent to use the recently restored station for 20 years. Amtrak will use 813 square feet of the depot while the city will be responsible for maintenance and repairs.

Varley said the agreements involving the $1.2 million project took a long time to reach because of the multiple parties involved.

“So BNSF will own the platform because it is on their property,” he said. “And then BNSF will lease it to Amtrak. And since we own and operate the depot, and the platform will be attached to the depot, they lease it from Amtrak back to the city. It sounds kind of crazy but it’s because of the ownership of the property.”

Varley said the depot project is a good candidate for funding from hotel-motel tax funds, and recommended a 60/40 percent split of operation costs between the hotel-motel tax and the general fund, respectively.

He estimated that first year operation costs for running the station will be about $50,000, but after some one-time costs, the annual number will drop to about $35,000.

Going with the lower number would mean an annual cost of $21,000 from the hotel-motel tax and $14,000 from the city’s general fund.

Fort Madison is served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief and handles about 6,600 passengers annually.

Red Tape Delaying Fort Madison Station Move

June 2, 2017

Red tape keeps holding back the movement of Amtrak to the former Santa Fe station in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Amtrak said it is waiting for documents from the Fort Madison City Council. The city council in turn has said it is waiting for approval of the documents from the Iowa Department of Transportation.

However, Fort Madison City Manager David Varley, the process may seem bewildering but it will ensure that the move can be made without any problems. He said, though, that it will be a long process.

“The only update we have is that we just asked for an update,” Varley said. “We had to add some wording in a contract and wanted to get it approved by IDOT, because if we approved it and Amtrak approved it and we sent it to IDOT and said the wording wasn’t quite right we would have to work on it again.”

Varley said he has heard from Amtrak officials, who asked when the contracts would be ready.

“I think they are ready and willing to get going as long as IDOT approves it,” Varley said. “So we are just waiting for approval from IDOT. Then we will take the contracts and put them in agreements with Amtrak and BNSF and we will bring them to city council for approval.”

Once all the approvals are given then IDOT place the project on a bidding calendar.

Varley said he has been told this is the last set of documents the city will have to provide before a final bid date is set.

Fort Madison is the only Iowa station served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

Fort Madison Station Upgrades Put on Hold

April 19, 2017

Officials in Fort Madison, Iowa, say that plans for Amtrak to use a different station are on hold.

“We can’t spend tax money on this or the funds we have unless we have a good assurance that it’s going to [go] forward and stay in,” said City Manager David Varley.

He was referring to the lack of a state budget in Iowa and federal budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration that would end all funding for Amtrak long-distance trains.

Fort Madison will pony up 25 percent of the $1.2 million needed to upgrade the Santa Fe Depot for Amtrak’s use.

“We are going to do what we can on our part but at the same time we have to be responsible,” Varley said.

Fort Madison is the only stop in Iowa for Amtrak’s Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

City Manager Says New Amtrak Station Platform in Fort Madison May be Completed This Year

January 18, 2017

Amtrak is waiting on Federal Railroad Administration approval of a new platform reconstruction project in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Amtrak 4City officials said that although the project was projected to go out for bids in April, that is now more likely to occur in May or June. Construction is expected to take six to eight months.

The project will move the Amtrak stop for the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief to the former Santa Fe passenger station, which has recently been rehabilitated.

Fort Madison City manager David Varley said once the FRA signs off on the project the platform plans will be reviewed by BNSF, which owns the station site.

“The final construction plans have been submitted,” Varley said.

Once BNSF reviews the platform plans, they will be passed on to the Iowa Department of Transportation for its review. “IDOT will be the group that will be bidding out the project,” Varley said.

Also, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must issue a 404 permit because the Amtrak platform will be located in a flood plain.

“We are working on getting that permit, which is required,” Varley said. “We are trying to tie up some of the final paperwork and review of the final plans approved, and once that all gets together, we will get a definitive date as to when it will go on a schedule as to when it will go to be bid out.”

And then the Fort Madison City Council will need to approve the plans.

“We need to clarify what the duties and responsibilities of both parties are,” Varley said. “These have to be approved by both parties before the project goes out to bid and before construction starts.”

Despite having a lot of hoops to jump through, Varley does not expect any problems to crop up that will keep the platform from being built.