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New Buffalo Opening New Privately Funded Amtrak Station at Transit-Friendly Development
by crandell | 10/18/2009
Lake Michigan from New Buffalo Harbor. Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley via Flickr.
Though a bit behind schedule, it looks like New Buffalo's new Amtrak station is finally slated to open on Oct. 26. This makes another great Michigan beach town even more accessible to carfree Chicagoans.
This project first caught my attention late last year when I read that developer Jim Gierczyk put private funding into the new station. This kind of private train financing is pretty unheard of these days, though becoming more common particularly with streetcar projects. The current New Buffalo Amtrak station is on the edge of downtown in a not-so-pedestrian-friendly location that serves one train line. Gierczyk wanted to move the station to downtown where two Amtrak lines currently pass through but don't stop, and where he was developing the Light Harbor Preserve condos. He of course saw that a transit-oriented location and increased train service would add value to his real estate.
Earlier this year a Crain's story put the idea of a New Buffalo day trip back on my radar -- Will we commute to New Buffalo?. This quote from former New Buffalo Mayor Gary Ramberg is so perfect I almost wondered if he'd been reading Carfree Chicago's About page:
And for me, that's exactly what this is about. Right now, a trip to New Buffalo would require an overnight stay because of the limited Amtrak schedule. Since I've never been there before, I'm just not ready to commit to a hotel room to visit. But the new schedule looks like it'll let me check out the beach and downtown for four hours in the evening (arrive 5:20 PM and leave 9:45 PM), which could make for a great little day trip. That may not be ideal still, but it's a huge improvement, and the groundwork has now been laid for future service enhancements.
Route Info.: Amtrak Michigan Services