|Uptown Station unveiled to public|
|Written by Drew Zimmerman, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Tuesday, 17 July 2012 16:54|
After nearly 11 years of planning and building, Uptown Station is now open for public use.
The doors to the new Uptown Station in Normal were officially opened to the public following a dedication ceremony on July 14.
Not only will the building serve as a multimodal transportation center for Amtrak and bus service, but it will also act as the Normal City Hall.
Linda Bowman, director of the ISU Speech and Hearing Clinic, introduced the four speakers at the dedication, which included Normal Mayor Chris Koos, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, U.S. Senator for Illinois Dick Durbin and chairman of the Amtrak board Tom Carper.
She also thanked the Normal Town Council among others for their vision, commitment and tireless effort.
“Today, we deliver on a project that many said could not be done,” Koos said.
He also noted that it was a day of celebration and he never entertained the idea of throwing in the towel on the project.
U.S. Secretary LaHood gave thanks to three people responsible for the completion of Uptown Station. He said that nobody has done more for Illinois in his 35 years of politics than Senator Durbin, who LaHood classified as the best senator the state of Illinois has ever had.
Second, LaHood thanked Mayor Koos for his leadership.
“Everywhere I go where people solve problems is where communities come together,” he said.
Finally, LaHood thanked U.S. President Barack Obama for his support of the project even as a senator.
Senator Durbin was honorably introduced by Bowman as a man of integrity, experience, compassion and intellect within the U.S. Senate. Durbin acknowledged the members of Local 362 for all of their hard work in the construction of Uptown Station.
In a returning favor, they thanked Secretary LaHood as being the best Secretary of Transportation the nation has seen.
Additionally, he also thanked Mayor Koos.
“When you’ve got local support, determination and commitment like here in Normal you can build something that lasts,” Durbin said.
Uptown Station took 11 years to come into fruition and cost $45.9 million. To understand this commitment, Carper noted that people don’t take enough time to look back and see what has been accomplished. Only then can we appreciate where we are, he said.
As the former mayor of Macomb, Carper understands the importance of a balanced transportation system of economic development and its positive impact on economic activity and ridership.
Uptown Station is a national example of what a community can do with vision and reliable, frequent, fast service, and when you pair the two together, you have a winning recipe, Carper said.
After Mayor Koos cut the ribbon to Uptown Station, the building was open to the approximately 300 people in attendance. Tours lasted from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Although there are still a few functioning issues, construction of the building has been completed, according to Koos. A Subway restaurant on the first floor still needs work, but is expected to be finished on July 25, he added.
“I’m overwhelmed by everything,” Koos said. “This was an 11 year project and I’m thrilled at how it turned out and what it will do for the community and ISU.”