Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak station in Elyria Ohio’

Waving Goodbye in Elyria

July 22, 2019

The railroad station has long been a focal point of life in American cities and towns, but in many places the Amtrak station is little more than a bus-stop style shelter.

Elyria, Ohio, is one of those places. Its station is new, but offers minimal amenities.

The city and county have been talking for years about having Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited stop at the former New York Central passenger station in Elyria, which is now used by local transit buses.

But that project is expensive and bogged down in red tape and political conflicts. Perhaps some day it will all work out.

In the meantime, the bus shelter station will have to do.

It is shown on June 26, 2019, from aboard the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, which was more than three hours late when it arrived in Elyria.

Two girls see off a friend who is boarding No. 48.

City, County at Odds Over Elyria Train Station

June 7, 2019

The city council in Elyria, Ohio, and the Lorain County Commissioners are at loggerheads over a stalled project to move the Amtrak stop in the city to a former New York Central station.

Now known as the Lorain County Transportation and Community Center, the efforts to make it an Amtrak station date back five years.

City and county officials disagree over why that effort has halted.

Mayor Holly Brinda blames county officials, saying they’ve refused to meet with city and state officials to discuss the project.

However, commissioner Matt Lundy blames Norfolk Southern, saying it has made a number of demands in return for its cooperation.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited use NS tracks through Elyria. Both trains stop at an Amtrak-built shelter

“I think it is important for city council and the citizens of Elyria to understand that the city of Elyria is not the reason this project is not moving forward at this time,” Brinda said during a council meeting this week. “On the contrary, the city has gone out of its way to offer assistance, and we are still hopeful the project can be saved.”

She contended that the Lorain County commissioners also “haven’t embraced the help” the city has offered including indemnifying the county against liability.

Lundy said the county is “committed to trying to make the project work.”

However, he said NS wants an open indemnification for an endless period of time.

“That’s something we can’t do. If, God forbid, something should go wrong, then obviously the county would be open to potential litigation and liability,” he said.

Lundy said the county tried to negotiate with NS but is legally forbidden from exposing the county and taxpayers to liability.

Brinda called that false issue, saying she has spoken with the Ohio Rail Development Commission about acting as a neutral third party to assess the station plan and offer assistance.

But that can’t happen without the cooperation of the county she said.

She also said NS said two years ago it was willing to work through the liability issues.

Elyria Law Director Scott Serazin said officials in Toledo and Sandusky have found ways to address the liability issues.

Lundy, though, said the situation in Elryia differs from projects in Sandusky and Toledo.

In Elyria the project design includes a skywalk above the tracks so that passengers would have access to both tracks at the station site.

Lundy said the skywalk is a large liability issue for safety over the tracks, which will have to remain active during construction.

Serazin suggested that the Elyria Community Improvement Corporation could purchase insurance coverage to cover any liability created by the project.

The city has $250,000 available that it said could be spent on the station project while Lorain County has Federal Transit Administration funds, more than $3.6 million in grants and a $2.9 million commitment from Amtrak.

Brinda suggested taking out a “co-insurance” policy to be funded by the city and the county.

Lundy acknowledged that there have been numerous emails, phone calls and letters exchanged about the project and its legal issues. “We have had endless discussions with Amtrak and Norfolk Southern and legally, we can’t do it,” he said.

Brinda and Lundy met last year to discuss the issues but neither could recall when that meeting occurred.

Lundy also contends that Amtrak has been unwilling to make a long-term commitment to serving Elyria.

It has offered a five-year commitment but balked at the county’s request for a 25- or 30-year commitment.

“We have been at this for a long time, and it’s not something we’ve taken lightly,” Lundy said. “We looked at every angle possible. We have a responsibility to the taxpayers to not expose the county and the taxpayers to an open liability potential unless we can get the railroad to agree to limited liability . . . it’s a misrepresentation that we didn’t try to make it work.”

Bids Being Sought for Elyria Station Project

January 17, 2018

Lorain County Commissioners are seeking proposals for a construction manager of the long stalled plan to create a new platform in Elyria for Amtrak passengers.

The platform will be located in the former New York Central passenger station, which serves as a public transportation center for local buses.

County Administrator Jim Cordes expects the proposal will go to bid soon.

“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.”

Amtrak currently uses a shelter at 410 East River Street. A modular station at that site was destroyed by fire in 2013.

The existing station also has limited accessibility for those with disabilities and Amtrak must use Track No. 2 of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

The new platform, which is expected to cost between $8 million and $10 million, will feature a bridge spanning the two NS tracks.

It also will include elevators and stairways to provide access to two partially enclosed platforms for passengers.

Lorain County will pay 5 percent to 8 percent of the project cost, with the rest of the money coming from federal, state and Amtrak funding.

Cordes said no start of construction date has yet been set, but expects that to change once the project had been awarded.

He said although work on the project has been slow, it never was in danger of ending. Much of the slow pace was due to reviews of the proposal by the county, NS and Amtrak.

“We’d exchange paperwork, then there’d be tweaks, more paperwork and then more tweaks,” Cordes 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.”

Elyria is service by Amtrak’s Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited and Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited.

Elyria Amtrak Depot Upgrade Faces Deadline

January 23, 2015
Artist rendition of the proposed Elyria Amtrak station structure.

Artist rendition of the proposed Elyria Amtrak station structure.

Lorain County is facing a June deadline to begin a project to connect the Amtrak station in Elyria to the downtown Transportation Center, which is housed in the former New York Central passenger station.

The county risks losing some federal funds that are pledged to the $9 million project if it doesn’t use the money by early summer.

However, the project remains $500,000 short of having all the needed funding in place.

Lorain County Administrator Jim Cordes said that committed funding  includes federal money, toll credits from the state of Ohio and $2.9 million from Amtrak.

Cordes said the $50,000 shortfall might be shaved down a bit if the city waives building and permit fees. The state might agree to allow additional toll credits to serve as the remainder of the local match as well.

The county used roughly $5 million in federal grants over several phases to renovate the ex-NYC station, which is used by local buses.

Commissioner Ted Kalo fears that if the county doesn’t use the federal money soon, some or all of it might be lost

“We’ve got to move forward on it,” he said. “We don’t want to pass up federal dollars.”

Commissioner Lori Kokoski agreed with that sentiment, but said she wouldn’t commit to spending additional county money on the project.

“It’s a nice improvement, but it’s not my No. 1 priority,” she said.

Commissioner Matt Lundy, who backs the project, said it would be a good idea to get it planned construction can begin once the funding is in place.

“Engineering never goes bad,” he said. “It just sits on a shelf and waits for a better day.”

Lundy said he was concerned about the lack of a second set of elevators because he worried that if there was only one set of elevators it could pose problems for the elderly and those with difficulty getting around. But he also acknowledged that adding more elevators would increase the cost of the project and said it wasn’t a deal breaker for him.

Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda is firmly behind the project, calling it a downtown development project. “It’s not a silver bullet, but we really do believe it could make a difference for our downtown area,” she said.

Thus far, the Lorain commissions have approved negotiating a contract with Richard L. Bowen & Associates, the architecture firm that did the preliminary drawings and cost estimates on the project. Cordes said that contract is still being negotiated.

The connection from the Norfolk Southern tracks used by Amtrak to the Lorain Transportation Center is expected to be an overhead structure with an spanning the tracks.

NS has two tracks at the current Elyria station, but the overhead structure has space for a third track should the railroad later elect to construct one.

County officials said it would be less expensive to use existing tunnels that once led passengers from the NYC station to the platforms used at that time.

But NS has repeatedly opposed use of those tunnels for passenger use. Currently, the tunnes are being used by the county for storage.

The proposed overhead structure would have three elevators and three staircases to provide access to two partially enclosed platforms.

Another factor working against the use of the tunnels is that it would mean that the transportation center would need to be open at night. The overhead structure would have access outside the transportation center.

At present, all four Amtrak trains serving Elyria are scheduled through between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

The tunnel option would cost an estimated $8.6 million, which would reduce the amount of local match by about $50,000

Amtrak uses a bus-type shelter that it built after a modular type station was heavily damaged in a 2013 fire. The modular station had been moved to Elyria from Cleveland.

Amtrak trains serving Elyria include the Chicago-Washington, D.C., Capitol Limited and the  Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited.

New Amtrak Station Going Up in Elyria

December 24, 2013




The Amtrak station in Elyria is no more. Here are some shots taken on Sunday showing the remains of the original structure (top and bottom photographs) and the foundation being installed for a new brick waiting room (middle photograph) that will be similar to the one in Alliance, Ohio.

Something had to be done as little progress has been made for Amtrak to use the former New York Central station that has seen millions of tax dollars used for is restoration.

Despite that, Lorain County Commissioners do not allow any of the interior space to be used for bus service.

Article and Photographs by Dan Davidson