An official said a project to extend the platform of Anniston’s Amtrak station has been paused because of a request from the Federal Railroad Administration.
The FRA in 2016 approved Anniston for a $138,000 grant to extend the 500-foot platform by 400 feet. Currently, Amtrak trains must make what’s called a double stop to load and unload passengers. In a double stop the train stops, unloads several cars and then moves forward to unload the final set of cars.
City leaders say the extension would allow passengers to load and unload baggage such as bicycles — something that could mean increased tourism for sites such as Coldwater Mountain’s biking trails and the Chief Ladiga Trail.
But Toby Bennington, director of economic development and city planning for Anniston, said Tuesday that the FRA has paused the project and asked Amtrak to see if baggage can be unloaded with the current platform without affecting train schedules.
Bennington said that if Amtrak officials find they can do without the extension, the grant will be used for another project, such as extending the station’s parking lot.
An Amtrak spokeswoman said the corporation is still in talks with city officials about how to enhance the station and that it would be premature to discuss the project in depth.
Anniston is among 11 local governments in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana that received grants to improve railway stations along Amtrak’s Crescent Line, the Southern Rail Commission announced in December 2016. The Crescent Line runs from New York to New Orleans.
A total of $2.4 million in Federal Railway Administration money was awarded through the project and will be used for passenger rail station upgrades or construction. Some of it will go to Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Mobile, as well as to cities in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Birmingham officials this month opened that city’s $32 million Intermodal Facility on Morris Avenue. The site serves as an Amtrak station as well as a station for Greyhound bus service and Birmingham’s transit system.