State transportation officials could reject proposed Bedford train station

Locals still support project to boost tourism, transportation

By Lindsey Kennett - Reporter

BEDFORD, Va. - A $10 million proposal to build a new train station in Bedford could run off the rails, but people pushing for the project say they're not giving up yet.

Last week, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation said it would not recommend building the proposed passenger Amtrak station on Plunkett Street.

Chief of Rail Transportation Michael McLaughlin said the station would only bring in 2,800 new passengers and divert riders away from Lynchburg and Roanoke. He said major infrastructure projects don't leave enough money to go around.

"A decision could be made," McLaughlin said. "To take another look down the road."

There is funding to study a proposed station in the New River Valley.

"We think there is a benefit to do as much Amtrak ridership in the Commonwealth as possible: rural, urban or otherwise," McLaughlin said.

Mitchell Bond is part of the up-and-coming cultural scene in Bedford. He co-owns Goose Creek Studio which overlooks the site of the proposed station.

"There's so much potential here and to be able to invest in that potential is such an important thing for us to do," Bond said.

The Bedford Franklin Regional Rail Initiative isn't hitting the brakes on the project.

"We are very optimistic," said Wende Gaylor, the president and CEO of the Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce. "We seriously want this to happen for our area and we'll keep pushing forward."

Bond wants them to keep chugging along, as well.

"I would say just keep going," Bond said. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right?"

The rail initiative is meeting Wednesday afternoon to talk about their plan of action. The Commonwealth Transportation Board won't make a final decision on whether or not to fund the Bedford project until June.

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