Amtrak station gets start
By John Howell
Groundbreaking is this morning at 10:30 a.m. for the Northwest Regional Amtrak station in Marks.
Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert will speak. He is expected to be joined by staff members from Amtrak, CN, and other elected officials.
The ceremony at 300 Cherry Street marks the first of the final step in a 21-year-long effort to restore rail passenger service to north Mississippi following the 1995 Amtrak decision to route its passenger trains over what was then Illinois Central’s Valley Line, away from passenger service that had been available in Batesville since 1858 on the Grenada line.
The initial proposal called for a flag stop to be located in Marks, but through negotiations, when constructed, the Amtrak train will stop daily on the routes running between Chicago and New Orleans that will help connect travelers to other routes across the country.
This project is funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and appropriated through the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) with a 20 percent local match from Quitman County.
The local match was secured by a grant from the Mississippi Development Authority.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Amtrak station will kick-off the 2nd Annual Quitman County Mules & Blues Festival, which attracted over 1,500 festival enthusiasts in 2015; experiencing the Delta culture of the Blues and the Civil Rights history of the 1968 Mule Train.
The Amtrak station will be fully operational in 2017, and expected increases in festival attendance and activities are anticipated due to accessibility of passenger rail service coming to this region.
For additional information visit: http://quitmancountyms.org and http://mules-bluesfest.org.