Not long after John Robert Smith became mayor of Meridian, Miss., in 1993, that city undertook a $7 million renovation and reconfiguration of its passenger-rail station to make it a transportation hub and, officials hoped, a focal point for downtown revitalization.
Meridian’s Union Station Multi-Modal Transportation Center, completed in 1997, is a centerpiece of a revived downtown that, according to a report by the Institute for Sustainable Communities, is the busiest public space in the city and has generated $135 million in nearby private-sector investment.
Mr. Smith, now co-chairman of the Transportation for America think-tank, will be the featured speaker in Toledo today at a Passenger Rail Forum co-sponsored by the Northwest Ohio Passenger Rail Association and the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments’ Public Transit and Passenger Rail Committee.
The program will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Toledo Club. Mr. Smith’s presentation, “Revitalizing Communities: The Power of Station Renovation” will be followed by a panel discussion including William Thomas, chief executive of the Downtown Toledo Development Corp.; Jerry Wicks, director of the Ohio Higher Education Rail Network, and Paul Toth, president of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.
The Meridian station project,