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CHICO — Federal stimulus dollars are being used to build a new concrete platform at the Chico train depot.

Crews are working to build the eight-inch-tall platform that will stretch 550 feet along the tracks between West Fifth and West Third streets. It replaces a shorter asphalt pad currently between the tracks and the station at West Fifth and Orange streets.

Part of the platform is completed near West Third Street and is available for boarding. The project also includes improved lighting and signs.

Amtrak is using $509,000 in federal stimulus dollars to improve its compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act at the Chico station. There are projects at dozens of other stations to rebuild or repair platforms, add lifts or ramps, or improve walkways.

Amtrak trains and many of its buses are wheelchair accessible, but the company still needs to make platform improvements. The taller platform will be closer to the passenger train”s doorways.

Currently, passengers on Amtrak”s Coast Starlight train frequently board the train where the tracks cross West Fifth Street.

For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 10,067 passengers used the two trains that stop in Chico during the night — one northbound to Seattle and one southbound to Los Angeles.

Thousands more passengers board the eight daytime Amtrak California buses that connect with Bay Area trains in Sacramento and Central Valley trains in Stockton. Greyhound buses also stop at the station four times a day.

While Amtrak is building the new platform, Union Pacific owns the railroad tracks and the city of Chico owns the 118-year-old depot.

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