Atlanta's historic Brookwood Station may be replaced with new rail station nearby

1:38 AM, Apr 14, 2011   |    comments
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  • Brookwood Station, Atlanta, April 13, 2011
  • Brookwood Station, Atlanta, April 13, 2011
  • Proposed new site for Atlanta passenger rail station, Northside Dr. and 17th St., next to the Atlantic Station mixed-used developments

ATLANTA -- Bye-bye Brookwood Station. Maybe.

The Georgia Department of Transportation and Amtrak will be shutting down the old place and building a new passenger rail station a mile away, within two years.

If some federal money comes through.

The Georgia DOT has applied for a $22.5 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to build the new station on 6.5 acres of state-owned property at Northside Dr. and 17th St., next to the Atlantic Station mixed-used development.

The DOT estimates the total cost of the project would be $38 million. GDOT and Amtrak would supply the additional $15.5 million.

"It needs to be relocated, definitely," said Ralph Concentine Wednesday night, standing outside Brookwood Station waiting for Amtrak's Crescent to arrive from New Orleans on its way to Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Concentine said a new passenger rail station in Atlanta is long overdue.

He pointed out that passengers can no longer park at Brookwood Station, which opened at Peachtree and Deering Roads, NW, in 1918. The lot and the station sit atop GDOT bridgework, above the rail lines. The support structure is deteriorating and GDOT concluded it cannot safely bear the weight of vehicles anymore.

GDOT shut down the small parking lot in March.

Passengers have to park in the lot behind the Masonic Temple, across Deering Rd., and dodge traffic with their children and luggage in tow.

GDOT expects that if it had to make extensive and expensive repairs to the station's piers and the rest of the support structure, those repairs would interrupt rail service and Amtrak would not be able to stop in Atlanta until the repairs are complete.

"That's what they need, right there," Concentine said of the proposed new site. "That'd be a great place. You've got plenty of space for parking, and it'd be real convenient for people to find," since it would be accessible from the 17th St. Exit off of the Downtown Connector (I-75/I-85) and from the Northside Dr. Exit off of I-75.

It would also be connected by shuttle with the MARTA Arts Center Rail Station.

According to the application that GDOT filed with the FRA, the new station -- tentatively called "Atlantic Station" -- would be built just off of the main tracks on side tracks, in order to get the passenger cars out of the way of freight trains during the Crescent's daily stops.

"It will free up that line so freight can run an additional four to six hours a day," said GDOT's Jill Goldberg.

As it is, the heavy freight traffic that shares the line with Amtrak must stop while Amtrak is at the station in Atlanta, creating one of the nation's worst rail bottlenecks.

"It'll just free that up, and freight is so important to the State of Georgia, to the Savannah Port, the Brunswick Port, Atlanta. It's very important to get that freight moving. And that's really why we're hoping to accomplish this.... We have the support of North Carolina and Alabama [for this grant application] because it's vital to their areas and their interests as well."

GDOT's application says the Atlanta stop on the Crescent's twice daily runs between New Orleans and New York City is increasingly popular; in 2010, 112,000 passengers boarded and disembarked at the Brookwood Station, an increase of 16 percent from 2009. Amtrak projects a 50 percent increase, at least, of passengers coming to and leaving from the Atlanta passenger station within the next 20 years.

No architectural plans have been drawn, yet, but GDOT anticipates the new station would be more than 12,000 square feet in size, and have parking for more than 200 cars.

Brookwood Station, which underwent renovations prior to the 1996 Olympics, would not be demolished. It was designed by the renowned Atlanta architect Neil Reid, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

GDOT expects that if the grant comes through, the new station could open by the end of 2012.

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