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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cocoa, Fla., set to commit to Amtrak station

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The Cocoa, Fla., City Council is expected to adopt a resolution September 8 acknowledging potential sites for Amtrak stations and pledging commitment to a project that would run a passenger train route along the state's Atlantic coast, according to Florida Today.

Few details are known yet on what having a station in Cocoa would cost. The city likely would be responsible for some staffing and maintenance, depending on the type of station that gets built. It would be one of eight station locations along the route.

"We're still finding out what the impacts are," Public Works Director Ed Wegerif said.

The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council restarted the push to bring passenger rail along the Florida East Coast Railway when the opportunity arose to use federal stimulus money.

The Florida Department of Transportation and Amtrak were nearing a deal in 2001 that included local stops in Titusville, Cocoa and Melbourne.

But the plan fell apart after concerns from the federal government about Amtrak's spending. Passenger trains haven't run along the state's Atlantic coast since November 1968. Amtrak carries passengers from Jacksonville to Miami, but the routes cut inland, serving Tampa and Orlando.

The three sites in Cocoa up for consideration are in the area of Rosa L. Jones and U.S. 1; State Road 520/Stone Street and U.S. 1; or an area north of State Road 528. Amtrak will decide the site and conduct negotiations with property owners to buy necessary land.

Stimulus funds will be applied for by Oct. 2, and the system could be operational by October 2012.

If stimulus funds are awarded, site selection could begin next year.