New Amtrak station sure to please

July 8, 2009 6:22:37 PM PDT
The ribbon cutting for Durham's new Amtrak station is a few days away, but grateful passengers, who used the station for the first time Wednesday, said it arrived just in time.The new station is very different from the old one.

It utilizes an old building that represents Durham's past glory as a bustling tobacco-based commercial hub. It's already a big hit.

"I love it!" exclaimed Cora Vincent, passenger. "It's a blessing to get a brand new train station. It's a blessing to have a train station, period."

The station is a blessing after years of enduring the temporary station that is known unaffectionately among local travelers as the Amshack.

"I think they're going to tow it away to a mobile home park, from the looks of it," said Kevin Davis, author of the Bull City Rising blog. "It will get good use from Durham Parks and Rec. The structure's not going to waste, but we could have done better and I think we have."

"And it's such a nice station," Vincent said. "I can't wait to get on this train."

People who use the new station must wait a little to travel to it from the old parking lot. They also must wait for a planned pedestrian bridge to and from Durham's new bus depot.

A few items remain on the station's punch list like stabilizing a shaky waiting room bench. But the people in charge said everything will be ready to go in time for the opening ceremony on Friday.

That's when local leaders formally welcome everyone to the station that offers modern convenience while embracing Bull City memories.

"Oh, it's great," passenger Reg Jeffers said. "Much better view of the North Carolina Mutual building, the historic building. But it's beautiful, man. It's really nice!"

The DOT and Durham are paying rent for the 11,000 sq. ft. station. It's located inside the restored Walker Warehouse.

Friday's ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m.


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