- Associated Press - Saturday, August 17, 2019

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - With Amtrak passenger trains slated to start rolling into Vermont’s largest city in as soon as two years, officials are looking for a parking spot.

A study commissioned by the Chittenden County Regional Planning that was released earlier this summer puts Burlington’s Union Station at the top of the list of possible locations to park the trains between evening arrivals and morning departures.

The study considered five possible locations where the Ethan Allen Express, which currently runs between New York City and Rutland, can be serviced overnight, WCAX-TV reported.

Passenger rail service to Burlington ended in the middle of the last century, although the Amtrak Vermonter passes through Essex Junction, 7 miles (11 kilometers) northeast of Burlington.

With Vermont transportation officials having worked for years to restore passenger rail service, upgrades to the 75 miles (120 kilometers) of rail between Burlington and Rutland, crossings, rail sidings and new passenger platforms in Vergennes and Middlebury are nearing completion. Service is expected to begin in 2021 or 2022.

The locations considered for storage included two sites just north of Burlington and two to the south of Union Station, which is located near the Lake Champlain waterfront at the bottom of Burlington’s Main Street.

If the Union Station site is chosen, most of the needed utility connections are easily available but a three-phase power connection would need to be constructed, at an estimated cost of about $300,000. A siding needed to accommodate the loading and unloading of passengers from the 680-foot-long (210-meter) train is already planned.

Not everyone is happy with the suggestion.

Melinda Moulton, the CEO of Main Street Landing, an organization based in what was once Burlington’s Union Station, said it didn’t make sense to store trains at the station.

“We believe train stations should be a place where there is a lot of love. When you pick up your family members, or see your child off to college, or whatever it’s a place of beauty,” said Moulton, who is also the founder of Lovers of Burlington’s Waterfront, an organization created to start conversations about storing trains at Union Station. “This is the place to bring passengers; it is not the place to have a second rail track.”

In the end she says if the people of Burlington want to see the trains stored at Union Station, she will accept that.

“If they don’t think it should be here then people need to speak up before this happens,” she said.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation will make the final decision about where the train should be stored.

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