Train station improvement moving forward in Chesterfield

Posted at 12:12 AM, May 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-22 08:38:28-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- It sits back off the road and some Chesterfield leaders say it's an underutilized gem in their community; the Amtrak station that sits along South Street in Ettrick.

It's not easily accessible to the public, but the Board of Supervisors has big plans for that to change.

Wednesday the board is expected to allocate $2.5 million to the cause. Members are hoping to pair that money with federal grant money that the county is applying for.

It's a tall task of turning a tiny, dated train station into a modern multimodal hub.

Rider, Porsha Buchanan is excited to hear about the plan. She would like to see, "Restaurants, shops, somewhere that you can sit when you're waiting on your train."

County leaders say the big picture plan includes relocating and expanding the train station and improving the surrounding area. Widening projects are slated for East River Road and Bessie Lane which will also be realigned. Sidewalks are also proposed for the following streets; South, James, North and Williams.

Neighbor Penny Lyons says she thinks the improvements would be positive for the community. With the expansion of the Amtrak services in the Tri-Cities region, including the potential development of the Southeast High Speed Rail, county leaders say the need is there for a more modern station.

That vision includes a taxi stand, a Petersburg Area Transit bus drop off and sidewalk access to nearby Virginia State University.

It seems that not everyone is thrilled at the idea.

Virginia Summers tells us she doesn't support high-speed rail in Chesterfield. She thinks the proposed improvements to the Amtrak station in Ettrick are being done just to move the county one step closer to high-speed rail.

"If the only reason they're doing it is for high-speed rail then I'm not sure it's worth the money they're putting into it," Summers added.

County leaders say pumping new life into the Ettrick Amtrak station and making it more accessible is the ultimate goal.

According to a staff report from the Chesterfield Supervisors' agenda, the Ettrick train station "can easily evolve into a Tri-Cities multimodal station for many reasons: existing infrastructure, access to interstates, opportunities for supporting transit-oriented development, and location relative to the region's population, Virginia State University and Fort Lee."

Chesterfield County must apply for the federal grant by early June.

CBS 6 News will continue to follow this story and bring you new updates as they become available.