JAMESTOWN – Mayor Sam Teresi say passenger train service could once again return to the city.
On Monday night, Teresi updated the Jamestown City Council on the steps that would be required to bring an excursion train service into the city.
According to the mayor, the first step is for the city to apply for a grant through the state’s Consolidated Funding Application program by July 31, which would be used to help pay for a passenger train viability study.
“Back in my 2014 state of the city address I said that I thought it was time that the city take a good hard look at the possibility of incorporating passenger rail service back into the city,” Teresi said, adding, “Not regularly scheduled Amtrack service – I think we all realize the economic limitations of it, but to look at the possibility of periodic passenger rail excursion activity principally between Buffalo and Jamestown.”
Teresi said the excursion service would tie in well with other development projects in the city, given the recent renovation of the Jamestown Gateway Train Station and the development of the National Comedy Center, along with other economic development activity in the downtown.
As a result, the city department of development has created a task force, consisting of various community and regional stakeholders, to determine what would be needed to bring an excursion train service to Jamestown. As part of that process, it has identified a couple of consulting firms that would be able to help create a detailed study and plan.
“This task force has been communicating with companies that do this as a business,” Teresi said. “And much to our surprise, we learned that probably the foremost expert in the field is a company called Stone Consulting, that work all over the country if not all over the North American continent in doing this type of work – not necessarily with rail excursion, but as a consultant with railroads and with communities and figuring out issues within the rail business. They’re located 25 miles down the road in Warren, Pennsylvania.”
The mayor said the feasibility study will focus on four main areas, including the economic impact the excursion service would have o the region, as well as outline any opportunities and challenges associated with the project. It would also focus on what would be needed to renovate the abandoned engine house just to the west of the Train Station, and provide details of the business and operational plan needed for the excursion service.
Teresi said in order for the city to qualify for state funding to help pay for the feasibility study, it needs to submit a grant application to the state by the end of this month. As a result, the city council will be acting on a resolution during its July voting session to give permission to apply for the grant, and work toward bringing the project to fruition.
The estimated cost for the study is $60,000, with the city required to match 50 percent of the funding for the project. Teresi said he and his staff are currently talking with possible local funders to help offset the local portion of the cost, should the state approve the grant request.