Florida Railroad Museum officials plan to break ground July 19 for a long-anticipated brick-and-mortar station with a 5,000-square-foot freight room/meeting room, ticket office, sales area, memorabilia and restrooms.
Passengers would at last have a covered area while waiting for the train and when disembarking.
The building, located at 12210 83rd St. E., would be more than 20,000 square feet when completed.
Currently, the museum is essentially more than two dozen pieces of rolling stock — locomotives, cabooses and passenger cars. Tickets are sold in a rail car.
In April 2017, the Manatee County Tourist Development Council pledged up to $1.5 million over four years for the project, essentially reimbursing the nonprofit museum for half of its construction expenses.
"We are all excited about getting this new chapter in Parrish started," said Iris McClain, a board member of the Parrish Civic Association.
"They attract thousands of people to our area every year," McClain said of the impact of the Florida Railroad Museum.
An estimated 80,000 passengers a year take in popular events like Thomas the Tank Engine, the Hole in the Head Gang and the Polar Express.
Patrick Masterson, president of the museum, said Wednesday that although the groundbreaking is July 19, construction already has started with with the pouring of footers
The museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Trains run Saturday and Sunday on 6 miles of track between Parrish and the old lumber mill town of Willow in southern Hillsborough County.
"We are making a lot of progress in a lot of areas, and a lot of it is in the railroad yard in Willow," Masterson said.
New additions to the museum include several circus cars and a turntable that will be installed in Willow. The turntable is a wheelhouse that allows heavy railway rolling stock to be turned in place 180 degrees.
A completion date for the museum will be dependent on the revenue stream at the museum, Masterson said.
The groundbreaking is set for 9 a.m. July 19.
For more information, visit http://www.frrm.org/ or call 941-776-0906.