Gaston & Catawba

Hickory presses for train stop

City of Hickory officials are trying to make sure Catawba County's biggest city doesn't get left off a future Salisbury-to-Asheville passenger train route.

The city's old train depot had formerly been designated as a stop on the route, which the state has been planning since 1997.

But last year, Hickory sold the depot building to two businessmen who plan to open a restaurant there. Sale documents didn't mention a passenger train stop.

Hickory officials recently became concerned with making sure Hickory will still be on the train route after they received a copy of a letter the state rail division sent to neighboring Conover. The state notified the smaller city that the site of a former manufacturing plant in Conover will be a stop on the train route.

Since then, Hickory officials have discussed with state transportation planners Hickory's desire to be included, too. “… I believe we will have an opportunity to have Hickory re-engaged in this process,” City Manager Mick Berry wrote to City Council members in a recent memo.

Meanwhile, city staff are also talking with the owners of Hickory's old train depot about somehow having a train stop at the site, said Assistant City Manager Andrea Surratt, who said the owners are “pretty cooperative, but there's nothing in writing.”

Hickory doesn't want to be left off the route, Surratt said.

“I think passengers will want to stop in Hickory, so we're going to do everything we can to ensure we have a stop when rail service comes through,” Surratt said.

The state will consider a proposal for a Hickory stop, said DOT rail division spokeswoman Shirley Williams, although it had indicated that the Conover stop would be the only one in Catawba County.

State officials don't have a firm timeline for launching the route because they're still seeking money for it.

City of Hickory officials are trying to make sure Catawba County's biggest city doesn't get left off a future Salisbury-to-Asheville passenger train route.

The city's old train depot had formerly been designated as a stop on the route, which the state has been planning since 1997.

But last year, Hickory sold the depot building to two businessmen who plan to open a restaurant there. Sale documents didn't mention a passenger train stop.

Hickory officials recently became concerned with making sure Hickory will still be on the train route after they received a copy of a letter the state rail division sent to neighboring Conover. The state notified the smaller city that the site of a former manufacturing plant in Conover will be a stop on the train route.

Since then, Hickory officials have discussed with state transportation planners Hickory's desire to be included, too. “… I believe we will have an opportunity to have Hickory re-engaged in this process,” City Manager Mick Berry wrote to City Council members in a recent memo.

Meanwhile, city staff are also talking with the owners of Hickory's old train depot about somehow having a train stop at the site, said Assistant City Manager Andrea Surratt, who said the owners are “pretty cooperative, but there's nothing in writing.”

Hickory doesn't want to be left off the route, Surratt said.

“I think passengers will want to stop in Hickory, so we're going to do everything we can to ensure we have a stop when rail service comes through,” Surratt said.

The state will consider a proposal for a Hickory stop, said DOT rail division spokeswoman Shirley Williams, although it had indicated that the Conover stop would be the only one in Catawba County.

State officials don't have a firm timeline for launching the route because they're still seeking money for it.

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