BRISTOL, VA (WJHL) – Bristol, Virginia is still working toward getting Amtrak passenger rail service for the city and is preparing to take the next step.
The city is seeking proposals from consulting firms to conduct an in depth study on the impact of Amtrak rail service in Bristol.
“We have now moved into an RFP process, and the RFP process is for an economic feasibility study. And the economic feasibility study will give us data on everything from how it is going to affect traffic patterns to how many cups of coffee are going to be sold downtown. So, this is going to be the tool that we use to keep interest in Amtrak and passenger rail in Bristol,”, Bristol, VA I.D.A. Exec. Dir. Bart Poe said.
The deadline for proposals is Jan. 23 and then they will choose a consultant and they will have until the end of August to come back with a feasibility study. Hopefully, the results will be good and they will be able to present it to the state and Amtrak officials and get them to start moving Bristol up the ladder of possible sites.
“We know that at this point, we are not high on their list of priorities, there is a lot of stuff in the east that needs to be done, but we hope that this will start moving us up the list of their priorities,”, Poe added, “And, the great thing is, if you look at the websites, Amtrak’s website, DRPT, we’re listed there. It shows us, it shows us on the track, so it is not something that we’re just throwing up. This is something that they are aware of and interested in.”
Bristol is hoping to capitalize on the success of Lynchburg and Roanoke, both have been very successful since opening their Amtrak service. Lynchburg has surpassed expectations every year since their service began in 2009 and Roanoke has had good ridership numbers since it started in October of last year.
“That’s the good thing for us, we’re the next logical step toward Atlanta, so what they want to do is they want to connect the lower states to the upper states with a more direct route,”, Poe said, “There was a pretty big lag between Roanoke and Lynchburg, and we hope that ours will be shorter. We anticipate maybe four years. We would like to see and Amtrak train roll in and pick up passengers in four years.”
Poe also told News Channel 11 that the renovated Bristol Train Station already has the room for the Amtrak rail service.