About 100,000 bricks — all more than 100 years old — are being removed from the trackside platform at Greenwood’s Amtrak railroad depot.
Amtrak is reconstructing parts of the station, which is owned by Canadian National railroad, to meet accessibility specifications required by the 1990 federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
“There is not too much we can do,” said Mayor Carolyn McAdams. “We don’t have control of the building. That’s it in a nutshell.”
The bricks are expected to be turned over to the city for other uses, officials connected with the project said.
Workers for an Oxford-based company, Demolition Specialist, have been pulling up and stacking bricks on the platform this week.
The general contractor, George Allen Construction Co. of Moline, Illinois, has an office trailer stationed at the site, where Phil Lehning, superintendent, is in charge.
He said the bricks will be replaced with concrete pavement, new handrails and new lighting will be installed and, inside a waiting room, new flooring will be laid and a bathroom will be re-equipped.
Also to be constructed will be an “ADA-compliant ramp in the parking lot area and another ramp on the side of the building close to Carrollton Avenue,” Lehning said.
The project must be finished in a year, during which the area will available for getting on and off the City of New Orleans, which runs between Chicago and Greenwood. “It’s usable now,” he said.
Amtrak has had troubles with ADA compliance for at least a decade. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report that said, “Amtrak has failed to comply with the ADA.” The company was told to bring all facilities over which it has control into compliance.
In Greenwood, the CN depot is considered by some to be an eyesore.
McAdams said she has tried to connect with CN about improvements to the station and the possibility of turning the property over to the city, perhaps through a purchase or swap. “I have been trying to get my hands on it for 10 years,” she said.
Seven years ago, when there were grant funds available that would have paid 100% for a depot face-lift, CN rebuffed her overtures. CN keeps equipment and supplies at the depot.
The unkempt platform and parking lot are the first places passengers see when they disembark in Greenwood, and the depot has been the second busiest Amtrak stop in Mississippi, eclipsed only by the station in Jackson. In 2017, 14,471 people hopped onto and off the City of New Orleans in Greenwood.
The depot was constructed in 1918, according to the Illinois Central Historical Society.
“It’s a busy station,” said Greenwood author Mary Carol Miller, who has written 14 books on historic preservation.
“That’s a great building, which they (CN) do nothing to take care of. It is one of the few existing depots of that size and architecture in the state. They are not doing anything to maintain it.”
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