Ground broken for Amtrak station platform

Amtrak Station Platform Groundbreaking -- From left are Peter Harlan, the Harlan Company; Brian Okenfuss, MoDOT southeast district area engineer; Marc Magliari, Amtrak manager of media relations; Arcadia Mayor Roy Carr; Our Town Tomorrow President Carol Kelsheimer; State Rep. Paul Fitzwater, Iron County Presiding Commissioner Jim Scaggs, AV Chamber President Brian Parker and his son, Ben; Joe Gabel of Taylor Engineering; and Liz Wiggins, project administrator for the Harlan Company.

It has been decades since the last passenger trains rolled out of the old Ironton/Arcadia Depot, but due to the hard work of local proponents, Amtrak’s Texas Eagle passenger train will soon be stopping here twice each day.
“Here” is the Whistle Junction Visitor’s Center and Museum in Arcadia, where a groundbreaking was held Saturday for the construction of a new station platform.
The $600,000 plus project was celebrated by Amtrak and MO Dept. of Transportation (MoDOT) officials, state and local elected officials, and Our Town Tomorrow (OTT) members, the guiding and driving organization behind the project.
Arcadia Valley Chamber of Commerce President Brian Parker officiated the ceremony, introducing a number of speakers for the short program.  Despite the threat of rain, the event drew a crowd of approximately 100.
“This project has been a lot of hard work from a lot of people,” said Iron County Presiding Commissioner Jim Scaggs.  “Carol (OTT President Carol Kelsheimer) has definitely been the quarterback of this team, but it takes a community with grit and determination to make something like this happen.  I can assure you that more than one community had their name in the hat for this stop.
“I’ve had phone calls from Shannon County, Carter County, Reynolds County, St. Francois County and Madison County wanting to know when this train stop will be open.”
Mark Magliari, Amtrak’s manager of media relations, welcomed the crowd on behalf of Amtrak’s 20,000 employees and its management.
“Amtrak serves 30 million passengers per year,” Magliari said. “This train, the Texas Eagle, will take you, without a change of seats, all the way to San Antonio, and four days per week – all the way to Los Angeles.  Going the other way we go to St. Louis and on to Chicago.
“A few years ago I got a call from Carol saying, ‘We want a stop in the Arcadia Valley,’” he added. “Now, I get calls like this every so often and there have been people who have been working to get a stop for a very long time.”
This one is happening, he said, “...because of Carol, because of your elected officials, because of our partners at the Missouri Dept. of Transportation, and a little bit because of that Ameren settlement.”
Kelsheimer introduced OTT Board Members Judy Schaff-Wheeler, September Bennett, Joan Duncan and Pam Sherrill, noting their diligence and dedication to the project.
She gave a brief timeline of the project, stating that it began when Daisy McCabe and Brian Parker attended a Chamber Tourism Committee meeting on Nov. 30, 2010 and requested the Chamber pursue an Amtrak stop for the Valley.  It was the request that started the ball rolling.
“We are very thankful  for the Arcadia Valley residents who contributed over $10,000 to get this project started. And to pay for the first set of plans,” she said.
She thanked State Sen. Gary Romine, State Rep. Paul Fitzwater and Iron County Presiding Commissioner Jim Scaggs for their assistance in obtaining additional needed funding for the project and to MoDOT and the Iron County Economic Partnership for support.