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Depot stimulus funding for a boarding ramp

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Stimulus funding that the Tomah, Wis., Amtrak Station is slated to receive will be used to construct a handicap boarding ramp, the Tomah Journal reports.

 

Tomah officials received
word in June that the Tomah Amtrak Station would be receiving $509,000 in
stimulus money that they hoped would be used to make improvements to the aging
depot. After learning that the funds will be used to construct an Americans
With Disabilities Act boarding ramp, some are questioning the cost of such an
improvement.

 

“I think it is
frustrating,” City Administrator Jim Bialecki said. “There has been profound
interest for improving the railroad site.”

 

The Tomah Amtrak Station
is one of eight stations in Wisconsin, and it has seen ridership increases this
decade. The depot is also a potential stop for a proposed high-speed passenger
rail service between Chicago and the Twin Cities — via Tomah, La Crosse and Winona,
Minn.— that could begin in the next five years.

 

The city hopes to develop
on property near the railroad depot, and the construction and price tag of a
handicap platform has some officials concerned. The depot sits on a 61-acre
property owned by Canadian Pacific Railway, which has been in contact with
Tomah city officials about selling the property along both sides of Superior
Avenue in the center of the city. Development of the railroad property is a
priority of the city’s Long Range Planning Committee, which is working with
Canadian Pacific Railway and Vandewalle & Associates, a firm out of Madison
hired by Canadian Pacific to market and plan development of the property.

 

The platform to be
constructed will be a 550-foot, eight-inch concrete platform. Bialecki said he
hopes a decision would be made on whether or not the station would be moved to
the north side of the tracks before permanent improvements are made.

 

“We are hoping that they
will wait, but it is Amtrak’s to do with what they wish,” Bialecki said. “If
they make these improvements at that cost and we have substantial future
developments where the depot would be moved, that money would all be down the
drain.”

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