News & Reviews News Wire Mobile, Ala., board approves zoning exception for Amtrak stop

Mobile, Ala., board approves zoning exception for Amtrak stop

By Trains Staff | May 6, 2024

Still needed from city council: Lease for station site, funding agreement for Gulf Coast service

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Architectural drawings of train station platform
Plans for the Mobile station platform, as presented at a Monday hearing. AECOM/Amtrak via Mobile Board of Zoning Adjustment

MOBILE, Ala. — The City of Mobile’s Board of Zoning Adjustment today unanimously approved the special zoning exception requested by Amtrak for a temporary station platform and adjacent parking in Mobile, a necessary step forward in the slow-moving effort to launch Gulf Coast passenger service between Mobile and New Orleans.

CSX and the Port of Mobile were among those speaking in favor of the exception at a 2 p.m. hearing today (May 6), along with two Amtrak officials. No witnesses were opposed.

The zoning decision now enters a state-mandated 15-day period for possible appeals; if none are filed during that period, Amtrak can take the decision to the Federal Railroad Administration to request a “categorial exclusion” under the environmental review process governing the route’s development [see “Latest Gulf Coast report to STB …,” Trains News Wire, May 6, 2024]. That, along with necessary adjustments to the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement, or CRISI, grant awarded in 2023 for route improvements, could be done by the end of this month, setting the stage for the beginning of infrastructure work.

Still to be finalized is a lease agreement between Amtrak and Mobile for the city-owned land that includes part of the station site, as well as Mobile’s portion of funding for the Gulf Coast service.

Ray Lang, Amtrak vice-president of state-supported services and one of the company representatives at today’s hearing, declined when asked by WALA-TV to offer an estimate when service might start.

“The funding agreement needs to be put in place, the lease agreement needs to be put in place, CSX needs to let the contract for the construction work to take place, hire the contractor, then do the actual work,” Lang said. “So I’m not yet ready to put a timeline in place, but soon.”

One thought on “Mobile, Ala., board approves zoning exception for Amtrak stop

  1. So either NRPC or CSX is building a new stud-end sidetrack but combined they couldn’t figure out how to include in the grading for the new track a new platform pavement 8″ ATR? Instead NRPC is going to let a separate contract to construct a raised aluminum platform basically at ground level, all so they could use the existing parking elevation. They could have just raised the accessible parking to make this all work and provided a short driveway ramp up to the accessible parking. Meanwhile, this contraption will block the use of the through platform making service to the east difficult.

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