Amtrak will help fund cleanup outside Penn Station

Posted on March 14, 2013

The city’s spending board approved a contract with Amtrak that calls for the government-owned rail company to help fund for the first time the cleanup of the plaza outside Penn Station.

Amtrak will contribute $12,000 annually for cleaning and maintaining the 102-year-old station’s plaza, according to the agreement approved Wednesday by the city’s Board of Estimates. The city had been solely responsible for funding maintenance and cleanup outside Penn Station.

The city’s spending board approved modifying National Railroad Passenger Corp.’s land lease and parking garage agreements with the city in order to allow Amtrak to contribute funds for cleanup. National Railroad Passenger Corp., which does business as Amtrak, is a government-owned rail line that runs more than 21,000 miles of routes across the U.S.

Amtrak ridership in the Baltimore-area grew from 1.2 million in 1997 to 1.8 million in 2012, according to the Brookings Institution.

Meanwhile, Baltimore leaders have beensearching for ways to spruce up Penn Station. Amtrak is currently seeking funding to develop a master plan for the station off Charles and St. Paul streets.

Amtrak’s $12,000 contribution will increase over time, according to the contract. The company’s contribution to Penn Station shows Amtrak is committed to Baltimore, said Craig S. Schulz, an Amtrak spokesman.

“Amtrak’s financial contribution toward maintenance of the Penn Station Plaza is another example of our ongoing commitment to the City of Baltimore and the thousands of passengers who pass through the station every day,” Schulz said in an email. “Baltimore Penn Station is a very important facility to Amtrak and we are excited about the opportunities for its improvement.”

Jack Lambert, Baltimore Business Journal.