The tracks are down, but before an Amtrak train can roll through the star city some work is needed. There is an underground culvert that part of tinker creeks flows through and it stretches from the transportation museum, down Campbell Avenue to the Norfolk southern shops. The tracks Amtrak would use runs over the culvert. As it is now, the tracks would not be able to support the weight of the train. To fix it will cost city taxpayers $6,000,000. Roanoke city Vice-Mayor Court Rosen says it is a crucial project.
"It might be a lot of money and tough, but long term it is a really smart investment," says Rosen.
We looked at the numbers to see how much of your taxpayer dollars is going to the project each year. The city's finance department says the money will come out of capital improvements part of the budget. In 2014 $600,000 will go into the project. $3,000,000 in 2015, and finally $2,500,000 in 2016. Finance Director Ann Shawver says the tier system helps cut down on taxpayer costs.
"Figure out what you need in the one year and what you can wait on till the next year, and that way you don't pay interest on funds just sitting there and not being used," says Shawver.
Rosen agrees it is a lot of money, but by having Amtrak he believes there will be a return on this investment.
"The economy, in terms of quality of life, and opening up Roanoke to the whole east coast of the United States is well worth that money. I think we will find that money will pay its self back over and over again for years and years," says Rosen.
And in return bringing in something the city has wanted and worked on for years; passenger rail.
An event that brought thousands of people to Salem this year is coming back next year. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. for the Blue Ridge Music Festival.