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'All Aboard Live Oak' hopes to bring back passenger rail service

Published: Apr. 11, 2017 at 6:48 PM EDT
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By: Lanetra Bennett

April 11, 2017

LIVE OAK, Fla. (WCTV) -- Live Oak and Suwannee County officials had a meeting with Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission Tuesday afternoon.

They wanted to show them why Live Oak should be one of the passenger stops if passenger rail service is restored in the region.

The community started a campaign called, 'All Aboard Live Oak' in 2016.

Many people in the community of Live Oak showed up for Tuesday's meeting. They made it clear that they want to be able to have a passenger train stop in town.

Philip Giglio was one of the many residents in attendance. He said, "I would love to be able to ride the train from here to Louisiana, which is where I'm from originally, to go back and see family. It would be a lot cheaper than gas and I could relax instead of fighting traffic."

Louisiana is where the passenger train service would start. It would go from New Orleans through North Florida.

Jimmy Norris, the executive director of the Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce, said, "Live Oak has so much to offer between all of the springs and trails, the biking that's available here, rafting, canoeing. There's huge events that happen down at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, as well as Downtown Live Oak."

Alvin Jackson, the director of Economic Development for Suwannee County, said, "For Suwannee County, that becomes an economic boost. Those individuals will spend dollars. On the other hand, it creates an opportunity for new investments."

Live Oak and Suwannee County officials rode the Amtrak from New Orleans back in February 2016. They were on board with Tallahassee and other officials from the region. It gave them an opportunity to experience the ride and show how much the passenger service is needed.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox said, "We're hoping by letting our voices be heard, we can make it a priority and have it funded on the federal level. Our state is now involved through the department of transportation, and I'm hopeful it'll happen soon."

The Amtrak representative says a group is working on a report that looks at what it would take, such as infrastructure, to bring back the passenger service.

He says the report should be done in about a month. They'll take that to Congress in hopes of getting the green light.

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