Local residents and business people gathered to hear updates on a planned Amtrak station and expanded bus service for the town at a community coffee last week.
Construction on the Amtrak station is to begin in 2019 and conclude in 2020. There is $3.6 million in N.C. Department of Transportation and Triangle Transit funding slotted for 2019 funding and another $3.6 million for 2020.
Hillsborough Planning Director Margaret Hauth said she didn’t have design specifics yet, but she said the project is not subject to re-prioritization, so the DOT will not be moving the project back or ahead.
“When we first asked for a train station, I never expected it to move so quickly,” Hauth said.
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In response to a question about whether the station will be a full-service one, Hauth said it will be designed for lighter use, so bag checking probably will not be available and Amtrak will not be staffing the station.
There will be an automated kiosk to handle ticketing, according the town’s small area plan for the station.
A planned police substation will contribute to safety at the station.
The station will be served by two Amtrak passenger train routes that already pass through Hillsborough – the Carolinian, which travels between Charlotte and New York twice daily, and the Piedmont, which makes eight trips daily between Charlotte and Raleigh.
There is also the possibility of more commuter routes headed to Raleigh as necessary improvements to the tracks are made, Hauth said.
“We do expect more frequent service over the years,” Hauth said.
Plans call for the 20,000-square-foot facility to be built on two tracts called the Hillsborough tract and the Collins property, which are flanked by South Churton Street and U.S. 70-A. The railroad track runs in a straight line along the northern edge of the parcel.
Orange Grove Street connects the southwestern corner of the Hillsborough tract to South Churton Street.
The train station building will also house the police substation and and a community hall.
Plans also call for a park at the site and commercial and residential construction.
Also in the DOT’s plans for Hillsborough is the widening of South Churton Street to four lanes from the Eno River to Interstate 40. The DOT has allocated more than $1 million for the project with construction beginning in 2021.
Orange County Transportation Administrator Peter Murphy gave an update on bus service in Hillsborough.
There will be free bus service between Hillsborough and Chapel Hill during midday starting July 6, Murphy said.
Beginning in August or September, Murphy said, there will be a Hillsborough-Efland-Mebane loop that will go into Alamance County.
The Hillsborough loop that runs through town each hour until 5 p.m. is up to an average of about 50 riders a day, Murphy said.