Amtrak looking at a station move in Port Huron

From The Port Huron Times-Herald:

The parking situation is cramped at the current the Port Huron Amtrak station. Photo by John DeLora.
The parking situation is cramped at the current the Port Huron Amtrak station. Photo by John DeLora.

The Port Huron Amtrak station will possibly take the next train out of the city.

Preliminary discussions have begun between Amtrak, Michigan Department of Transportation, Canadian National Railway, the city of Port Huron and Port Huron Township Downtown Development Authority about moving the station to Port Huron Township.

“The current train station was built in the 1970s and is no longer up to code with the American Disabilities Act,” said Paul Maxwell, Port Huron Township Downtown Development Authority director.

Maxwell reported that a decision will be released within the next 30 days.

“The benefit of moving, in addition to meeting ADA standards, would be a larger parking lot and being adjacent to the I-69 business loop,” said Maxwell.

The proposed new location would be at 24th Street and Michigan Avenue off of Griswold in Port Huron Township.

“We have many Canadian residents that 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.”

Hopes of including bus transit from the station also are in discussion.

“We want to make the Port Huron area a destination for visitors,” said Maxwell. “That means we need to provide adequate transportation.”

Maxwell commented that whether the train station stays in the city of Port Huron or moves to Port Huron Township, it will continue to be a business asset.

In the 2013 fiscal year 194,766 passangers rode the Port Huron-Chicago train, up from 187,911 the previous year. In 2005 that number was 155,741.

Of those 194,766 passangers 29,461 boarded or got off the train in Port Huron in 2013. In 2012 that number was 26,696.

“The train leaves from Port Huron early in the morning and arrives late at night,” said Maxwell. “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,” said Fogal. “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.