By: Tonya Jackson
In 2004, Hurricane Ivan devastated Pensacola and the surrounding areas. In the aftermath, local Amtrak service became another casualty. After years of speculation and planning on Friday, February 19th, the Amtrak inspection train stopped in Pensacola. This trip, which started in New Orleans and continued to Jacksonville, is a necessary step that brings Pensacola closer to the return of rail transportation becoming reality.
The enthusiastic crowd of over one hundred included Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward; Congresswoman Corrine Brown; Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan; Visit Pensacola President Steve Hayes; a member of Amtrak’s board of directors, Tom Carper; and Crestview Mayor David Cadle. Additionally, local chamber representatives from the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce, the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce were present to welcome Amtrak.
Congresswoman Corrine Brown stated, “This isn’t just a train, it’s an economic vehicle” and having the rail service return to this area will allow for increased homeland security and viable transportation in times of emergency.
Mayor Hayward expressed how proud he was of Pensacola for coming out and that attendees “exceeded everybody’s expectations.”