Oxford is a step closer to having passenger train and bus connections to the outside world, thanks to a $4.5 million federal grant awarded through the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI).
The grant, which will not become available until 2022, represents the second half of the $9 million cost to build a multimodal transit center at 909 S. Main St., Oxford. That site is now owned by the Talawanda School District. The transit center will be operated by the Butler County Regional Transit Authority (BCRTA), which is the recipient of the grant.
According to Matthew Dutkevicz, executive director of the BCRTA, a grant covering the first half of the financing was awarded in 2018. Miami University also has invested $1.6 million in this project, and construction is set to begin by 2021.
“Large construction projects take a long time,” said Dutkevicz.
Dutkevicz is hoping the station will be ready between 2022 and 2024 but is not sure about that estimate. He said the timing depends on how quickly the design for the transit center can be completed.
“I am excited for it,” he said, “think it will be a big difference, looking forward to building it.”
The transit hub will include waiting lounges and restrooms for regional passengers. The bus center will allow BCRTA to keep buses in Oxford, instead of returning them to Hamilton every night for storage and repairs, Dutkevicz said. BCRTA also is exploring sharing the facility with regional bus companies, like a Barons Bus, he said.
Along with this, the City of Oxford and Miami University are teaming up to build a train platform next to existing tracks that run adjacent to the site. That will allow Amtrak to add a stop on its Cardinal line which connects Cincinnati to Indianapolis and Chicago. Currently, the only stop between Cincinnati and Indianapolis is in Connersville, Ind.
According to Marc Magliari, Amtrak’s media relations manager, the stop in Oxford is one of the railroad’s top priorities, and will mainly focus on Miami University faculty, staff and students as its target market.
Magliari feels the platform will be ready to use for passengers by 2023.
Alan Kyger, economic development director for the City of Oxford, said the project will be helpful for all Miami students who are from Chicago and Indianapolis areas.
The cost of the new train platform is estimated at $1.5 million, Kyger said. The City of Oxford and Miami are set to pay $350,000 each, and the remaining cost will be covered by applying for grants from the state and Amtrak, he said.
“Ohio grants and Amtrak grants are there, so they (project planners) are hopeful, but not there yet,” said Kyger.