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Fort Madison Amtrak project nears completion

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FORT MADISON (WGEM) -- Fort Madison city officials say their decade-long effort to move their Amtrak station to the historic Santa Fe depot is just months away from completion.

Fort Madison mayor Matt Mohrfeld said the 1000 foot platform project is basically finished but some finishing touches still need to be applied on the depot building like railings and signage.

"It's moving quick but we are but we are committed," he said. "September 8 we are stepping off that train at this depot."

The current Amtrak station is located on 20th, outside of the downtown area and Mohrfeld said the city will benefit from having a major transportation hub closer to the heart of the city.

"If I were going to tell you this is going to bring 1000 people to downtown, it's not but what this is, this is one more cog in a big wheel of improvement," he said. "This plays into our riverfront development, this plays into the revitalization of downtown which is happening through the new highway, it's just part of a vision coming together."

Local business owners said they're excited for the move.

"I think something like the move of Amtrak over here is only going to continue to encourage that Fort Madison can be a destination for people," Swed & Co. Coffee owner Chris Swed said.

He said things are already moving in the right direction and the move will accelerate what they're already seeing.

"I think you're seeing a huge influx of people just seeing downtown as a place that isn't dead, that there's a lot going on," Swed said.

He said Fort Madison has a lot to offer and attractions like the new depot can help the city realize its full potential.

"You look back at photo's from the 70s and you think, 'My goodness. Fort Madison really was a place,' and I think there's no reason we can't be a destination place like that again," Swed said.

Around 10 members of the Fort Madison high school football program pitched Friday in to help bring the depot into shape, power washing the exterior, carrying out junk and moving building materials.

Head coach Derek Doherty said they're proud of their players for making the effort.

"One of our team goals is to always lead the community in community service," he said. "We're really big inside of our program about that and being servant people and our kids are fantastic for jumping on this opportunity."

Doherty said as a gesture of thanks for their help, Mohrfeld will be contributing to the program's fundraiser to make improvements to their stadium.

"We're looking at stripping the bleachers, repainting them, you know, we're going to do some new fencing, and spruce the place up and make it nice," he said. "Our kids are working hard and they deserve to play in a nice stadium."

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Blake Sammann

Blake Sammann is a reporter and weekend anchor at WGEM News.

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