The Somerset County commissioners authorized planners to apply for federal and state grants that would pay for a new Amtrak train station in Rockwood Borough.
The estimated cost of the train station is about $2 million,Somerset County Planning Commission Director Brad Zearfoss said Tuesday.
If the county gets the grant it is not a guarantee the train station will come to fruition because Amtrak and CSX, the track’s owners, would have to agree to the plan. A 2009 feasibility study by Amtrak showed the company would make a profit from the stop.
The stop has been a topic of debate for decades. Those opposed, including some borough council members, have made public their concerns about who would pay for maintenance bills. The county has assured council members that they won’t be left with that bill. Proponents of the train station have been trying to bring it to the county since the early 1990s.
The county will apply for $1.6 million from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, discretionary grant program through the U.S. Department of Transportation. The federal agency is authorized to award $474 million for road, rail, transit and port projects that reflect national objectives.
Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis. Applications are due June 3, Zearfoss said.
County planners will also apply for a $360,000 Keystone Communities Public Improvement Grant through the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The grants are used to revitalize communities.
The Somerset County Rails-to-Trails Association has provided $40,000 toward the project, Zearfoss told the commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday.