You build it, they will ride more. That's how Normal Town leaders view new upgrades underway at the Amtrak Station. Come fall getting around will be a bit different.
Right now Amtrak trains can only use the North platform. In October a second South platform opens that could require some train passengers to cross the tracks, at a distance the equivalent of one city block. Normal has agreed to buy a $26,000 dollar mini electric vehicle to give disabled passengers and seniors a ride from one platform to the other.
"When the high speed rail is fully implemented they will be adding additional trains so there will be more frequency, so there will be more traffic," said Normal City Manager Mark Peterson.
Peterson says right now annual train ridership is at 270,000 people. He says the Uptown station is the second busiest in the state of Illinois. He expects additional riders once the new platform is finished by the end of the year. Under the partnership Peterson says Amtrak will provide the staff and training for the electric service vehicle.
"I think that's a great idea. You have to have enough people to justify doing it," said one Amtrak Passenger.
Another option the town council is considering involves building an underpass for pedestrians to use to get from one track to another.
It could be built underneath the Amtrak rail lines. But Peterson says that could cost 18 to 20 million dollars and require federal funds. While the electric ride is temporary Peterson says it could become permanent.