Norman Harrington, another Aberdeen resident, said he worries about his son using the train because the station is dark, dingy and unpleasant to use.

"Make it desirable for those that use the trains," he said.

Mayor Mike Bennett agreed that the tunnel is "deplorable," but explained the station area does not belong to the City of Aberdeen.

"Believe me, we try our darndest to work with Amtrak on those issues," he said, adding that sometimes Amtrak listens to the city and sometimes it does not.


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Council members addressed the reality that the project will not come to fruition any time soon.

They noted that small parts of it, however, such as dedicated lanes for bicyclists along Route 40, can happen much sooner.

"We have 30 years to go," Councilwoman Sandra Landbeck said. "That's fine. At least we are building. We may not live to see all this, but our kids will."

Levine pointed out Aberdeen does not sit in an open area, but one with many different property owners.

"The big idea of this moving forward is important to keep in mind but there are lots of small actions," she said.

Landbeck tried to stay positive about the reality of the project happening.

"When people see a grand thing like this, they tend to be naysayers and say, 'Oh, it's never going to happen in my lifetime,'" she said.

Bennett added: "It has to start now. If you never start something, it's never going to get finished."

He said the Route 40 "greenway" process is something Aberdeen and the State Highway Administration have been discussing for years, so that could move forward faster.

"We are just going to have to work the process and make it happen," he said.

Landbeck said doing it in pieces is necessary.

"I think it needs to happen gradually," she said.

The next steps for the area, according to the state officials, include initiating public-private development of a downtown parking garage and continuing to work to get a unique or "boutique" hotel for Aberdeen, which has been an ongoing topic of discussion as the city continues to fight for a hotel tax from the state.