Mobile, Ala.— January 11, 2017—The City of Mobile has received a $125,000 grant to design a new passenger rail station in Downtown Mobile from the Southern Rail Commission. The grant will allow for the architectural design and for a master plan to be developed.
Mobile is one of four Alabama cities to receive grants for train-related projects from the Southern Rail Commission. Other cities include Tuscaloosa, Anniston, and Birmingham.
A year ago, Amtrak held an inspection ride along the Gulf Coast to see if the area was a fit for the rail service.
“They [rail road tracks] are perfectly safe for freight train traffic and they’re fine for passenger trains, if you want them to go the same speed as freight trains, but we’re most successful is where we are driving competitive– that is we’re faster than freight trains and we’re faster than driving,” Marc Magliari with Amtrak said.
Mobile may now be one step closer to seeing a passenger train operation.
“This is the next step towards making the Gulf Coast passenger rail service a reality,” said Mayor Stimpson. “This service will facilitate job creation, enhance tourism and reduce environmental and roadway impacts. It will not only connect cities across the Gulf Coast but will also link Mobile to the Midwest, West Coast and across the nation. All of our citizens will benefit, but especially those with limited transportation options or physical challenges.”
Previously, the Amtrak’s Sunset Limited passenger line was the only transcontinental passenger rail service from Los Angeles passing through New Orleans to Orlando. After Hurricane Katrina damaged a portion of the rail infrastructure along the Gulf Coast, Amtrak suspended all service on the eastern portion of the Sunset Limited line.
The design process hasn’t yet begun, but the Mayor says the ideal spot for a train station would be along Mobile’s waterfront.
“It needs to be somewhere in the vicinity of Cooper Riverside Park, but you know at this point now that we have the design grant we’ll look at all of our options and really see where the best place to put it is. But this is our initial thought because it helps us connect to the waterfront and it just helps with the tourism and downtown so, that’s our thought at this point,” Mayor Stimpson said.
“The return of a passenger train would present an enormous opportunity for our citizens and city,” said Councilman Levon Manzie, who represents the downtown area. “From providing a much-needed increase in transportation options to a boom for our tourism industry, this could be a real game changer.”