Staff attends productive railroad meeting last week

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said the Southern Rail Commission meeting last week in Mobile went well and there is a distinct possibility that the city could see an Amtrak rail service returning.

Staff was one of 22 Gulf Coast mayors that have provided letters of support calling for Congress to restore the local passenger rail service, according to reports.

“It was a very positive meeting,” he said.

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In addition to the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission, the project is also drawing support from the West Florida Regional Planning Council, the Florida-Alabama Transportation Planning Organization and the Northwest Florida Regional Transportation Planning Organization.

Staff said right now, the commission is going through its investigative side of the project, which includes inspecting stops to see if they are compatible.

Recently, the city has done significant upgrades to the train station, which is located at the heart of the city.

Staff said the station received a new paint job and general upgrades. He added that the platform will need to be replaced.

“I don’t know whether we need to come back to concrete,” he said. “An inspector is coming through in January by the Amtrak and Southern Railway Commission.”

Staff said the recent passing of H.R. 22, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act will help Atmore get the rail service, if it comes.

The highway bill includes a new program for significant freight and highway projects. The bill will fund these projects for the next five years.

Additionally, the bill will improve safety, efficiency and reliability of the movement of freight and people, and generate national or regional economic benefits while reducing highway congestion and bottlenecks, ” These are projects that will “improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people,” “generate national or regional economic benefits,” and “reduce highway congestion and bottlenecks,” Rep. Bradley Byrne said.