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Amtrak breaks ground on station expansion



Bryan’s Amtrak station is getting some upgrades and ground was ceremoniously broken on the project Friday.


Michael Phillips, Amtrak director of portfolio management and Americans with Disability Act stations program, said the project has been in the works for several years.


Currently, the station consists of a simple cinderblock building with some chairs.


This estimated $5 million project (funded with money from the bipartisan infrastructure law) will add a 350-foot platform and build a new station that will include air conditioning, restrooms and proper lighting for early morning runs, Phillips said.


“It’s good to finally be here to kick this off,” he said. “The station looks to support Amatrak’s goals to better the customer experience, set the bar for modernization and bring greater integrated and comprehensive accessibility to stations across the country.”


Bryan Mayor Carrie Schlade credited former mayor Doug Johnson for being vital to the project.


“This project would’ve not happened without his leadership in the city beginning with the Amtrak conversations between him and our friend Derrick James, who’s the director of government affairs from Amtrak,” Schlade said. “Those started in 2008, so 16 years of conversations... When I took office in 2018, Mayor Johnson said two things to me: ‘Carrie, keep the city rolling and here’s a Christmas card from my friend Derrick James from Amtrak, do not lose his cell phone number.’ And I didn’t.”


The city purchased adjacent property to the station in 2008, which also helped facilitate the project, she said.


Stuart James, executive director of the Ability Center of Great Toledo, said passenger rail travel has been a priority for the center.


“We’re glad to see we’re starting to make some progress,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have lived in a couple of countries where rail is really the primary source of travel. The experience is amazing, you’re dropped from one city center to the next... We’re really excited to see this coming to Bryan, we put some investment in this city and this community and we’re continuing to do so.”


State officials


Ohio Sen. Rob McColley and Rep. James Hoops both spoke highly of the project at the ground breaking.


McColley said this was a great occasion.


“Growing up across northwest Ohio, people know of Amtrak and the service available in Bryan and the ability that it gave people and family for some time to visit other parts of the country,” he said. “This is a continuation of that tradition.”


Hoops said people love to travel.


“This is just a great opportunity to continue that,” he said. “I remember my family, many years ago, we started right here and went to Chicago and came back. It was a nice trip.”


Federal representatives


Although Ohio’s representatives to federal office weren’t able to make. it, members from their office did and shared words of congratulations from Washington, D.C.


Tim Schneider, northwest Ohio district director for Sen. J.D. Vance, said these were “very important upgrades.”


“These important improvements, planned here by Amtrak, will be an investment in the future of Bryan and the surrounding area,” he said. “This project, we know, will support better access, continued passenger rail service and other important services in the community.”


Schneider also brought a proclamation from Vance for Schlade.


Homer Carlisle, senior advisor for transportation and infrastructure for Sen. Sherrod Brown read a letter from the senator.


“Thousands of Ohioans use the Bryan station every year, and a new station with better amenities for passengers will make riding Amtrak from Bryan and surrounding communities easier,” he said. “The bipartisan infrastructure law is helping rebuild and replace outdated Ohio bridges, roads, transit and water and sewer systems, and I am proud to see construction of the new Amtrak station begin in Bryan, as we improve Ohio’s infrastructure.”


David Zavac, regional outreach director for Rep. Marcy Kaptur, wanted to highlight the bipartisan nature of the project.


“On behalf of Congresswoman Kaptur I would like to commend Amtrak and the city of Bryan for advancing this important project to improve accessibility to long-distance passenger rail service in northwest Ohio and the Great Lakes Region,” he said.

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