MADISON, Fl. (WTXL) -- Eyes were peeled and hands were clapping for the arrival of the Amtrak train as it traveled across the big bend just a few weeks ago.
And in Madison, the excitement surrounding a possible return to the rails was high. Madison City Commissioner Jim Catron said, "When the inspection train came through here about two weeks ago, there were people from Valdosta, people from Hamilton County, Florida. Down here, they're interested."
Having the Amtrak service back up and running for the City of Madison can bring some notable benefits.
Aside from the nearby Valdosta and Wild Adventures Theme Park, there are other attractions. "You have of course within easy driving distance, the Stephen Foster Cultural Center in White Springs", said Catron. "You have Suwannee River State Park."
The potential economic impact to downtown businesses just blocks away from the train stop has local business owners ready looking forward to its [train] arrival.
"I think it'd be great", said Cindy Poire, owner of Madison Antiques Market and Interiors, "You can't beat foot traffic. You can't beat word of mouth advertising. People who come and they see our downtown, everybody falls in love with it."
Amtrak's return to the area won't come overnight though, with Catron describing the process like it was making sausage: "It's painful to watch but if you want to have the right spices in there, you need to make sure they're added."
When asked about other benefits the Amtrak Service would provide, Catron said that it can help ease traffic during high-volume evacuations if a hurricane ever threatens, saying "Resuming passenger rail would be to provide access for emergency exit. Had that been done at Katrina more than I think it was. You would've had fewer people in difficulty."