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Train station improvements for Burlington & Macomb

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Rich Egger
Amtrak’s Derrick James with Gayle Carper of Macomb. James said, “We want the Amtrak station to reflect the treasures available to all who visit Macomb.”

Amtrak is spending millions of dollars to improve train stations in the tri states. This week it celebrated the start of one project and the completion of another.


Amtrak held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday outside the riverfront station in Burlington.

“We’re just thrilled to see it happening,” said Mayor Jon Billups, noting the pandemic delayed the project for a couple years.

Amtrak is spending $11.5 million to build two new 700-foot long boarding platforms and rebuild the canopies. The project also includes new signage, mobile lift enclosures, LED lighting, and guardrails.

In addition, accessible pathways will connect the station to various points.

Billups called the station an iconic building that is making a comeback.

“It was in some pretty dire straits there for a while until we had a local citizens group that decided that this place mattered,” Billups said.

He said Friends of the Depot cleaned up the building, replaced windows, installed new awnings, and generally made the place look much better.

“The city of Burlington owes them a great debt,” Billups said.

He also said space is available in the building for business offices, retailers, and a coffee shop/diner.

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Rich Egger
The groundbreaking ceremony in Burlington

Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) said Amtrak’s improvements will give the station new life, and she also applauded the Burlington residents who have been involved in restoring the station.

“They have been working for this for a long time. So to see this come to fruition is extremely rewarding for those who live in Burlington,” she said.

Derrick James, Amtrak’s Director of Government Affairs, said the citizen efforts raised the building’s profile with the agency.

He called the station a grand facility.

“It really tells you how important Burlington is and was in the commerce in this part of the state,” James said.

Amtrak’s station upgrades will take about two years to complete.

James said the prior Burlington train station burned down in January, 1943. The current one opened in March, 1944.

“I wish we could build things that fast nowadays,” he said with a laugh.


Amtrak spent $2.7 million in Macomb for several station improvements, including a new 300-foot long boarding platform with an embedded hydronic snowmelt tubing system. The platform also has a detectable warning surface, guardrails, LED lighting, signage, and a mobile lift enclosure.

New accessible sidewalks connect the platform to Calhoun and Randolph streets.

“This was a project that was needed, and we’re grateful to Amtrak for making the investment in our new platform,” said Mayor Mike Inman during a ribbon cutting ceremony held on Wednesday to mark completion of the project.

Inman also thanked the Macomb Beautiful Association for the flower boxes around the station and the garden at the building’s west end.

Like in Burlington, the Macomb ceremony featured Amtrak’s Derrick James.

He said big cities have airports and bus service, but that’s usually not the case for smaller towns, so train station improvements are especially important to them.

“We know how much the community values this facility and values this service, so it really touches you in the heart to know that you’re contributing to their quality of life,” he said.

The Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad (now BNSF Railway) built the Macomb station in 1913.

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Rich Egger
The ribbon cutting ceremony in Macomb.

The upgrades in Burlington and Macomb center around making the stations ADA compliant, according to Contracting Administrator Wendy Hebein, who also was present for both ceremonies.

“This is a station that’s loved by their community so we want to make sure that we’re representing everybody the right way,” she said in Macomb

Amtrak said the improvements are part of a multi-year plan to make all 500-plus of its stations across the country accessible to everybody. The agency said to date, it has completed 172 ADA station-related projects.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.