Tuscaloosa councilman working to rally support for Amtrak in Alabama

Updated: Mar. 23, 2017 at 12:02 PM CDT
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(Source: WBRC Video)
(Source: WBRC Video)

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - With President Trump's budget proposal calling for reductions in federal funding for Amtrak, Tuscaloosa City Councilman Kip Tyner wants to let Washington know Alabama wants to keep Amtrak. Not only does Tyner believe rail service is valuable, but he says with no Amtrak in Tuscaloosa, a new train station planned for his district would not become a reality.

Tyner says more than two million dollars in funding has already been allocated for the new station, which would be just off University Blvd., on the site of the former Leland Shopping Center. As Alberta works to rebuild after the April 27, 2011 tornado, Tyner says the station would encourage private investment and development in the area. "This is the game changer," Tyner said. "In other cities that have recently invested into new Amtrak stations, it's revitalized the whole area. In some cases, it's been entertainment districts. I know in some cities they've built meeting halls around it."

Tyner says since plans for the train station have begun, he has received interest in Alberta from a hotel, a car rental business and a restaurant.

He says he will be at The Gateway on University Blvd. Saturday starting at 10 a.m., with petitions people can sign, letting Washington know they want to keep Amtrak service in Alabama. Tyner says he also has petitions people can take and distribute in their neighborhoods, as well as materials to assist in letter writing to elected officials. Beyond Saturday, Tyner plans to move his effort across the city. "My goal is 100,000 signatures, I hope at least, to send to not only the Trump administration, but also to our Congressional delegation, primarily Senator Shelby and Representative Aderholt."

In his Department of Transportation budget proposal, President Trump references the Amtrak cuts: "Restructures and reduces Federal subsidies to Amtrak to focus resources on the parts of the passenger rail system that provide meaningful transportation options within regions. The Budget terminates Federal support for Amtrak's long distance train services, which have long been inefficient and incur the vast majority of Amtrak's operating losses. This would allow Amtrak to focus on better managing its State-supported and Northeast Corridor train services."

Although Tyner says at this point the cuts are only a proposal, he wants to get the community engaged about the issue. "I'm not going to just sit back and hope it doesn't happen."

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