The upgraded Amtrak train station planned for Waterloo – a $6 million project in all – will feature a brand-new depot instead of improvements to a historic station, town officials said.
The Waterloo Town Council voted Tuesday night to approve a contract with the U.S. Department of Transportation that will bring a $1.8 million grant to help with the upgrades. Amtrak will put more than $4 million toward the project, which is set to begin in early 2013, town manager DeWayne Nodine said.
“I think everybody sees it as a plus for Waterloo from the standpoint of downtown revitalization,” Nodine said of the project. “It'll be a thousand-percent improvement over what we've got now.”
The current depot resembles an open-air bus stop shelter. It has a platform on only one side of the tracks and does not have restrooms. Parking also is a challenge with the current setup, Nodine said.
Original plans called for the town and Amtrak to refurbish Waterloo's historic existing depot and extend a passenger platform west of Center Street to the current open-air depot, Nodine said. But railroad and town officials later settled on a new building because of challenges to extending the platforms, he said.
Nodine did not have exact dimensions of the new depot but said its size would likely match the old station. The new station would feature a fully enclosed, air-conditioned area with restrooms, along with covered open-air platforms on either side of the tracks, he said.
He said the added amenities could draw more northern Indiana passengers to the station instead of South Bend or another Amtrak hub. About 19,000 people ride Amtrak from Waterloo each fiscal year, Nodine said.
Waterloo won the $1.8 million federal grant in October 2010, but the Department of Transportation required an environmental review and historic preservation study before moving ahead, Nodine said.
The town council still must finalize a contract with Amtrak for the actual upgrades.