GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A new Amtrak station in downtown Grand Rapids will soon provide passengers a direct route to Chicago via rail.
The Michigan Department of Transportation says the first Chicago-bound train is set to leave Vernon J. Ehlers Amtrak Station on Monday morning. It will be celebrated with a grand opening ceremony that's open to the public and will be held a couple of hours after the train departs. Retiring U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and officials from several transportation agencies are expected to attend.
"This beautiful Amtrak station kind of creates a new `Union Station' for Grand Rapids," said Lynn Afendoulis, a state transportation commissioner from the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The station's construction had been hampered by delays since a 2011 groundbreaking, The Grand Rapids Press (http://bit.ly/1rgfBXp ) reported. A property dispute with CSX Corp., track signaling discussions between MDOT and CSX and the relocation of a city-owned sewer line caused holdups throughout the process.
The $6.1 million station is named after the former West Michigan congressman. It was funded by a $4.6 million grant from the Department of Transportation and a $1.5 million match in other federal, state and local funds.
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