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From: "James Dent" james DOT dent AT itochu DOT com
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 13:53:08 -0400
Subject: Anniston, AL
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From the Anniston (AL) Star Online...

All aboard ...
By Nathan Solheim

Star Staff Writer
04-27-2001

PHOTO: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star: An Amtrak train pulls into the
Anniston station.

Need a lift?

The Anniston City Council is close to wrapping up a decade-long process to
acquire the Fourth Street Railroad Depot.

City leaders hope to use more than $1 million in grants to renovate the
historic depot to serve as a multi-modal transportation center.

The price of the train depot, $55,000, is awaiting approval from the current
owner of the property, Norfolk-Southern Railroad.

By constructing the transportation center, city leaders hope to provide:

Safe and reliable transportation for Anniston residents.

Centralized transportation facilities that could anchor future
transportation needs and concerns.

Increased economic activity in the Zion Hill area of Anniston.

Anniston City Council member John Norton, who has been involved with the
project during his tenure on the City Council, recently outlined the city's
plans to build and fund the center.

The purchase of the property will trigger the state, federal and foundation
grant money needed for immediate costs and for future costs of the project.

"That's the reason it's been so critical, and why I've worked so hard on
finalizing the purchase of the facility," Norton said.

Current projections put an $800,000 price tag on the whole project. The rest
of the projected grant money will be used to upgrade the facility's
amenities.

Though not all plans have been completed, Norton hopes The Anniston Express,
Greyhound Bus Lines, Amtrak and at least one local taxi company will use the
facility.

Norfolk-Southern will remain a part of the facility, but in another building
on the property.

Plans call for the complex to include a coffee shop, restroom facilities,
shelter from the elements and a long-term parking area.

Plans also call for extra space so bus liners can turn around.

The train depot itself also will get a makeover. Plans call for the depot,
which Amtrak currently uses, to be restored to its previous historic luster.

Scott Barksdale, executive director of The Spirit of Anniston, wants to
insure the depot's attention to historic detail and aesthetics.

"It'll almost be a marketing tool for us," Barksdale said. "Everything will
flow out of the hub."

There are also tentative talks in a preliminary stage to place an Anniston
Police sub-station in the area.

City leaders say the proposed project could play a role in giving a lift to
the Zion Hill area of Anniston.

The proposed transportation center is in the ward of Anniston Council member
Ben Little. He said the project will have an impact on the area and the
city.

"I think centralizing the transportation will make things more conducive to
get around as a whole, and we'll make the area nice for people," Little
said. "I think (improving the community) is one of feed offs and it's one
thing that should help with us trying to put a facelift on the community."

Little and others say the center will bring people to the downtown area, and
could make Anniston a destination for travelers.

"We want people to see (Anniston) is a beautiful place and it's a lovely
place with good transportation and it's clean," Little said. "That's what we
want to impress on people; it's a win-win situation."



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