Amtrak may be moving to a new station in Port Huron, Mich., the eastern terminal of the state-funded Blue Water.
Local officials are eyeing a new station site in Port Huron Township because the current depot in the city of Port Huron is outdated.
The station was erected in the 1970s and is not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, said Paul Maxwell, Port Huron Township Downtown Development Authority director.
He said a decision on a new station site will be released within the next 30 days.
Amtrak, the Michigan Department of Transportation, Canadian National Railway, the city of Port Huron and Port Huron Township Downtown Development Authority have begun discussions about a new station site.
“The benefit of moving, in addition to meeting ADA standards, would be a larger parking lot and being adjacent to the Interstate 69 business loop,” Maxwell said.
The proposed new location would be at 24th Street and Michigan Avenue.
“We have many Canadian residents who come across the bridge, park at the station and take the train to their destination,” said Maxwell. “We need to be able to increase our parking capacity to meet the growing demand.”
The new station might also be served by buses.
“We want to make the Port Huron area a destination for visitors,” Maxwell said. “That means we need to provide adequate transportation.”
In the fiscal year 2013, 194,766 passengers rode the Blue Water, an increase over the 187,911 who rode in the previous year. In 2005, the ridership was 155,741.
Of those, 29,461 boarded or got off the train in Port Huron in FY 2013 while in FY 2012 that number was 26,696.
“The train leaves from Port Huron early in the morning and arrives late at night,” Maxwell said. “This prompts people to spend the night in order to be able to catch the train. This allows visitors and those who are passing through to use local hotels and restaurants.”
Marci Fogal, Port Huron Convention and Visitors Bureau president, said that Amtrak allows for Blue Water Area marketing opportunities.
“We have videos playing and visitors guides in every station along our railway connection centers,” she said. “Trains are a very economical way to travel as well. There has been an increase in riders in the past few years.”
If the Amtrak station is moved to Port Huron Township, Lindsay Wallace, St. Clair County transportation planner, hopes it will be a mixed-use development.
“Since the station will be in an industrial area, the same complex could accommodate commercial and manufacturing trains as well,” she said.