Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Amtrak hosts "civic conversation" on San Antonio depot

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Amtrak hosts "civic conversation" on San Antonio depot | Railway Track & Structures

As a part of its Great American Stations Project, Amtrak is hosting its fifth Civic Conversation in San Antonio, Texas, to discuss the redevelopment and restoration of passenger rail stations with a focus on communities along the routes of the Texas Eagle, Sunset Limited and Heartland Flyer. The two-day workshop, January 27-28, includes information on design and planning guidelines and a how-to session on getting started on a station renewal project and the types of state and federal grants available for station improvements.

Mayors, other civic leaders and state officials in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas have been invited to attend.

During the meeting, case studies from both large and small communities will be highlighted with representatives of those cities explaining how they shepherded their projects to successes, including additional redevelopment. In addition, this year's deadline to meet station accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act will be discussed, along with the best practices to meet the requirements.

Thomas Carper, a former Illinois mayor who now chairs the Amtrak Board of Directors, will report on the railroad's record-breaking first quarter ridership and point to new stations and routes as important factors in the growth of Amtrak. These examples include:

• The addition of Northeast Regional corridor service between Washington, D.C., and Lynchburg, Va., has carried nearly 30,000 riders since service was inaugurated on October 1, 2009 on a route previously served by a single frequency overnight train.

• Leavenworth, Wash., (population 2,000) has had 3,370 riders through mid-January, after opening the new station on September 24, 2009.

• Stanwood, Wash., (population 4,000) has had 818 riders through mid-January, after opening a new station on November 21, 2009.

• New Buffalo, Mich., (population 2,200) has had 852 riders through mid-January, after opening a new station and adding new frequencies on October 26, 2009.

Amtrak owns only about one-quarter of the 528 stations it serves. Roughly 33 percent of all Amtrak stations are owned by cities, 27 percent are owned by the freight or host railroads over whose tracks Amtrak trains travel and 27 percent are owned by Amtrak (primarily on the largely Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor). Additionally, private parties own eight percent, and the remaining five percent are owned by other entities, such as port authorities, commuter railroads, or transit agencies.

The Amtrak GreatAmericanStations.com Website enables an exchange of information and provides a point of initial contact to develop partnerships in this initiative to rebuild and revitalize stations. The website currently spotlights the success of the station project in Hattiesburg, Miss., and includes descriptions of stations along most of the routes in the 21,000 mile Amtrak network, along with daily updates of Amtrak news.

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