ELYRIA — The county’s long-awaited passenger rail platform project, which would replace the current Amtrak train station, is nearly ready to break ground.
An old postcard of the former New York Central railroad station in Elyria. The station, now the county's transportation center, is preparing to add a passenger train platform that would take the place of the current Amtrak station.
The Lorain County commissioners are accepting proposals from those seeking to serve as construction manager for the project, which County Administrator Jim Cordes believes will go to bid soon.
The platform will be at the county’s Transportation Center in downtown Elyria, at the former New York Central train station.
“It’s been progressing along fairly slowly, but it’s been progressing,” Cordes said. “We’re at the point now where I’m bringing a project manager to get ready to build something.”
Work on the project, which has been discussed for years, was never stopped, according to Cordes.
“It’s never been a ‘not go,’ ” he said. “It’s just that we’ve had things that have had better attention. We had other priorities that got in the way of this.”
The platform would replace the station at 410 East River St. for Amtrak trains in the city. That station was severely damaged in a 2013 fire and has limited the services at the location.
There also are other issues with the Amtrak station.
“Right now, we have an at-grade loading area that fails to meet any responsible ADA standards,” Cordes said. “There’s no separation between the tracks down there. It’s a very poor staging area for passengers.”
The new platform will have an enclosed bridge spanning the two tracks running by the refurbished train depot. It will include elevators and staircases to provide access to two partially enclosed platforms for passengers boarding the night trains running through the city.
The project is expected to run between $8 million to $10 million, according to Cordes. The county will be responsible for paying 5 percent to 8 percent of the cost, with the rest of the funding coming from federal, state and Amtrak funding, he said.
Cordes said part of the reason the project has taken so long to get off the ground is the “distant relationship with Amtrak and Norfolk Southern.”
“We’d exchange paperwork, then there’d be tweaks, more paperwork and them more tweaks,” he said. “It was easy to lose focus. It had been a slow project to begin with, and the complicated relationships made it even more so.”
The project won’t have a firm start date until after the project bid has been awarded, but Cordes said he expects it to begin soon.
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