Plans for an Amtrak stop in Oxford are gaining momentum, with design ideas and funding moving forward.
The city and Miami University have committed $350,000 each to the plan to build a platform for a proposed Oxford/Miami University Amtrak stop, and the Talawanda Local School District has submitted a letter of support.
The financial commitment from the city and university will likely not cover the whole cost of the project, but shows a local determination to proceed as well as serving as incentive for more donors or grants to round out the difference, officials said.
“I will probably be close to $1.2 million,” said Alan Kyger, Oxford’s economic development director who has been serving on the local committee to investigate an Amtrak stop. “We needed a firm commitment to show Amtrak we are serious.”
Part of the process of building a platform for an Amtrak stop in Oxford will be getting approval from CSX Transportation, which owns the tracks. Amtrak currently uses those tracks for its Cardinal route which runs through Oxford, but building a platform will require working with CSX.
Kyger has been talking to representatives of AECOM, an international firm of transportation planners. Two representatives will work with the planning committee in order to seeks bids for design of the platform.
The current vision for the project calls for a simple design with a platform along the tracks with a covered bench, although open. Using sketches based on similar plans in other communities, the committee is proceeding with that simple design in mind.
Kyger said the overall dream, however, is to make the community a multi-modal hub with various transportation options.
“Our goal is to build a basic shelter,” Kyger said. “How we get this done is a starting point.”
There are grant opportunities for the project and those will be pursued both for initial construction as well as future improvements and expansion.
The committee investigated a number of potential locations for the proposed stop, with several along College Corner Pike and in the Mile Square, but parking and other considerations were wanting for them.
The committee also considered two places along Chestnut Street, just north of the street and just south of it.
The site to the north did not impress Amtrak because it does not have sufficient length for the train to stop without blocking either Chestnut or Main street.
The location to the south of Chestnut Street proved to be the answer.
“We looked for a site we did not have to buy,” Kyger said, noting the location south of Chestnut Street has parking, space for potential future growth and is easily accessible from the Miami campus.
Miami University owns the land adjacent to the proposed platform site. Talawanda City Schools, which owns the Nelson-Morrow building next to the tracks, will provide a right-of-way to access the Amtrak platform.
The available land can also be used to support a restroom facility and bike racks for those using the trains.