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From: Bernie Wagenblast brwagenblast AT comcast DOT net
Date: Wed, 05 Jun 2002 06:40:14 -0400
Subject: Vancouver, WA
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Renovation Plans Continue for Amtrak Depot in Vancouver, Wash.
Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Publication date: 2002-06-04
Jun. 4--VANCOUVER, Wash.--Interior renovation of Vancouver's Amtrak depot,
urged by a citizen team in 1993, is about to be put back on track after a
two-year search for a bill of sale.
Once Amtrak is satisfied with planned changes, the $650,000 project will go
through the city's permit pipeline, a process that is expected to take three
months. Construction should take about nine months because crews will be
working while railroad business continues.
Last year, an average of 174 persons boarded or left the trains in Vancouver
each day. That's more than 63,000 passengers a year, said Jeff Schultz of
the state rail division.
Most of the work will be in the 93-year-old depot's upstairs offices, an
area seldom seen since about 1940, said Karen Ciocia, project manager for
the J. D. White Co., which is doing the project for the city.
"I don't think the upstairs has been touched since the station was built in
the early 1900s," Ciocia said. "There's about 3,600 square feet of space
upstairs. From the interest we've gotten from architects and train
enthusiasts, I don't think we will have any trouble renting it."
Those rents, plus money from Amtrak, provide the income to care for the
The Vancouver depot, third-busiest train station in the state, was hailed as
the only "two-sided" depot -- with two front doors facing different
tracks -- on the SP&S Railway when it opened in 1909. The reason is that
some trains head north-south, and others turn east at Vancouver to head for
Chicago. It's still the only two-sided depot, according to the Washington
State Rail Division.
The city bought the building for $1 from Burlington Northern Santa Fe
railroad in April 1999.
"We knew we had purchased the depot, but BNSF could not find the papers. It
really did take more than two years," Ciocia said.
The railroad-owned parking lot is under a 25-year lease with a renewal
option, she said. Construction will start as soon as Amtrak approves the
city replacing the railroad as depot owner.
Renovating the upstairs will be a headache, Ciocia said. The building has
one wide but steep stairway; it needs two stairways to meet federal
disabilities law. That law also requires an elevator.
Because this is a federal grant with no local match requirement, the project
takes no money from the city's treasury. Original plans tied the interior
renovation to $1 million in work by Amtrak. The rail agency spent its
portion fixing the depot roof and installing 1,400 feet of platform to serve
the Talgo trains of the Amtrak Cascades, which run between Eugene and
The depot serves 10 trains a day: six Cascades trains, two Coast Starlight
Seattle-to-Los Angeles trains, and two of the Empire Builder. One section of
the Empire Builder runs between Portland and Spokane, where it connects with
the Seattle-Spokane half of the train. The combined train continues to
State officials have dreamed for years of running 13 Cascades trains in each
direction daily. That target is 2018, and officials hope to have travel time
between Vancouver and Seattle trimmed to less than 2 1/2 hours by then.