Amtrak questions answered

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, August 5, 2009

By By Chandler Myers
A passenger train rolling through Atmore could give the city an economic and tourism boost if Amtrak goes through with a possible plan to restore passenger rail service to the Gulf Coast.
Congress required Amtrak last year to study the possibility of restoring its service on the old Sunset Limited Line that stopped service after the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Amtrak trains running through Atmore would give the city an economic boost, Atmore Mayor Howard Shell said.
In the study presented to Congress last month, Amtrak focused on three options of placing rail service back into effect with routes coming from Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Orlando.
Amtrak’s study showed that it could cost tens of millions of dollars and take up to two years to accomplish the feat.
The options that Amtrak listed are:
With the report now in Congress’s hands as well as local and state officials, Amtrak now waits for what the government agencies on the national, state and local levels think about the plan.
U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala., said he has seen the report, but would like to hear more input from mayors and other local agencies involved, especially because of the cost involved in the project.
Also in the reports are estimates of what it would cost to repair or rebuild stations that suffered severe damage during hurricanes with those estimates reaching $10.7 million to bring them back into service and compliance with the American Disability Act.
The report lists that the station in Mobile as well as the one located in Sanford, Fla., would have to be completely rebuilt.
Shell said Amtrak has never said anything to him about needing to rebuild the station in Atmore.
In the case that the Atmore station had to be rebuilt, Amtrak listed the cost of rebuilding the station at $740, 147.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the government agencies looking over the report include congressional committees, state departments of transportation and local governments.

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