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Amtrak completes $4 million project to make Grand Forks station ADA-compliant

The $4 million project, which has been underway since late 2020, was funded by the federal appropriation to Amtrak to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Grand Forks Amtrak Station.jpeg
The Grand Forks Amtrak station. (Jacob Holley/Grand Forks Herald)
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Amtrak conducted a media availability at its Empire Builder train station in Grand Forks on Tuesday, Nov. 16, laying out the progress on its completed construction project.

The $4 million project, which has been underway since late 2020, was funded by the federal appropriation to Amtrak to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Marc Magliari, media relations spokesperson for Amtrak, said the project basically overhauled the entire station without ever stopping regular operations at the station.

“There’s a mandatory, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, standard for what a platform needs to be,” Magliari said. “This is compliant with that, and the other one wasn’t.”

The station, which operates from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. any given day, serves about 12,000 people in a typical year and takes passengers to the western United States, including stops in cities such as Devils Lake and Williston before making its way across the northwest for stops in Spokane, Seattle and Portland.

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Magliari also said the timing for the completion of the project couldn’t have been better.

“We’re doing this just in time for the Canadian border to reopen and just in time for Thanksgiving,” Magliari said.

The completed project features a host of new features and amenities, including the demolition of its concrete platform to replace it with a 1,100-foot-long, 12-foot-wide platform with emergency exits at each end, a detectable warning system at the platform’s edge, the relocation of two wheelchair lift enclosures, new bathrooms, automatic door openers, modifications to the ticket window area, a new seating layout for waiting passengers and new signage, lighting and canopy upgrades.

The exterior improvements include upgrades to make the parking lot and ADA compliant, as well as the construction of a new ADA-compliant passenger drop-off area.

Magliari has high hopes for more Amtrak improvements in the future with the President Joe Biden signing the $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law Monday, which Magliari said includes the biggest influx of funding Amtrak has ever had.

“Eventually, these rail cars, some of which were built in the 80s and 90s, are going to be replaced, and we’ll use some of that funding for that. ” Magliari said. “There are about 160 places that don’t even have daily service or don’t even have any service, places like Phoenix and Columbus, Ohio, where we’re working with the local communities there on something called ‘Amtrak Connects Us,’ which is designed to put some of those places on the map.”

Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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