GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After several delays, the new Amtrak station in Grand Rapids finally opened Monday morning.
A grand opening ceremony for the Vernon J. Ehlers Amtrak station is scheduled for 10 a.m.
Originally, officials hoped to open the station in the spring of 2013, but construction problems pushed that back more than a year. A city sewer line had to be moved and there were conflicts along the way.
The new station is located 440 Century Avenue SW in the area of US-131 and Wealthy Street, next to the Rapid Central Station. It will allow trains to board without blocking roads, which was a problem at the old station on the corner of Wealthy Street and Market Avenue.
“The platform is very easy to negotiate, easy to step onto the train, it’s just a nicer front door for Grand Rapids,” said Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak. “Half of the passengers on the Pere Marquette board right here, they’re going to have a much better experience.”
The station will serve Amtrak’s Pere Marquette line between Grand Rapids and Chicago. The first train left at 7:40 a.m. Monday and will return at 9:55 p.m.
A release from Amtrak said the $6.1 million station — which was funded with federal, state and local money — has larger waiting rooms, restrooms, 118 parking spaces, a lighted clock tower, and a covered platform that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The current Grand Rapids Amtrak station averaged about 50,000 passengers in each of the last two years. Amtrak officials say ridership is expected to increase following the opening of the new station — the company has seen increases between 10% and 15% after other station openings.
The station is named after a former West Michigan U.S. representative. Sen. Carl Levin (D) and Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, as well as other officials, are expected to be at Monday’s opening ceremony.