Amtrak depot renovation complete here

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Kathy Jones works in Cassopolis during the week but uses Amtrak when she goes home to her husband and family, who live in Chicago
For 13 years Jones said she has done the weekly commute from the Niles Rail Depot, the landmark sandstone building built in 1881.
Among the passengers boarding Amtrak's afternoon train in Niles on Thursday from Detroit to Chicago, Jones is glad to see the station and its surroundings are being taken well care of.
Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation recently completed an approximately $500,000, two-year renovation project at the Amtrak depot in Niles.
Marc Maglieri, an Amtrak spokesperson, said the renovation project, which was funded by MDOT, Amtrak and funding from a State of Michigan transportation enhancement program, resulted in several improvements.
Improvements include an improved train platform that has made trains more handicap accessible; the parking lot surface and drainage has been improved, and the walkways to and from the station have also received a face lift, he said.
And, new electronic displays showing train schedules will be put up at the station soon, he said.
Maglieri thinks a well-maintained rail depot is a benefit not only to travellers, but also to the community.
Maglieri, however, said an important part of the renovation project was also to show people who live in Niles that Amtrak wants to be a "good corporate citizen."
Tim Hoeffner, a MDOT spokesperson, said the renovation project was completed about a month ago.
He thinks it's important to preserve stations like the Niles Rail Depot because buildings today are "not built with the same craftsmanship." "You've seen the station, it's such a beautiful place," he said.
But Jones wasn't the only person travelling on Amtrak from Niles on Thursday.
Lee and Jean Funk, a retired Niles couple, also boarded the afternoon ride to visit their daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren in Chicago.
They use Amtrak because they don't like driving to Chicago.
Both think the improvements that have been made at the rail depot are "wonderful."
But they wish the station would stay open longer than it does.
Jones, before boarding the train, said many people she meets on the train admire the Niles Rail Depot.
She hopes recent Amtrak staff reductions won't mean the depot in Niles will at some time down the road become inaccessible for train travellers.
According to the city's web site, the Niles Rail Depot has appeared in movies such as the "The Continental Divide" with John Belushi, "Midnight Run" with Robert DeNiro and "Only the Lonely" with Maureen O'Hara and John Candy.

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD superintendent announces retirement

Edwardsburg

DAR marks grave

Buchanan

Buchanan celebrates ‘Nicest Place in America’ honor Saturday

Dowagiac

Honor Credit Union gives back

News

MDHHS issues Emergency Order updating requirements for residential care facilities to allow for indoor visitation

Breaking News

Saturday morning shooting causes property damage in downtown Niles

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Municipal Airport hangar project progresses

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD participates in teletherapy case study

Berrien County

Halloween activities coming to southwest Michigan

Buchanan

Districts grapple with school bus driver shortage

Cass County

Dowagiac man headed to prison on three counts of domestic violence

Cass County

Cass County’s 43rd Circuit Court awarded grant

Edwardsburg

Ontwa Township seeks input on parks plan

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Rotary hosts Army National Guard

Berrien County

Brandywine Middle/High School to go remote Oct. 23 to 30

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 152,862 cases, 7,129 deaths

Cass County

Cass District Library to host annual book sale

Cass County

Missing dog found shot, family grieving after five day search

Dowagiac

Honor Credit Union donates to annual Tree of Love campaign

Berrien County

Spectrum Health reinforces commitment to equity

News

Candidates for 78th district seat participate in community forum

Berrien County

Berrien County Trial Court receives continued funding

Business

Niles businesses collaborate to sweeten their offerings

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien, Cass counties report one new COVID-19 death each