November 29, 2006

Depot plans on right track

Renovations will begin after railroads sign off on project

The Kingman depot once housed a Harvey House Restaurant. [Kathy Weiser, April 2008]

Suzanne Adams, Staff Reporter
Kingman Daily Miner

KINGMAN, Arizona - Train watchers and fans from near and far are eagerly awaiting the start of renovations on the old Santa Fe Depot in downtown Kingman.

"There's so many people interested in trains it's incredible! I've got tons of people with railroad artifacts interested in the project," said Shannon Rossiter of the Mohave Museum of History and Arts.

Plans for the renovation of the old train depot are about 95 percent complete, said Rob Owen, special projects coordinator for the city of Kingman. All that needs to be done is to have BNSF Railway and Amtrak give their final approval for the project.

Owen hopes to have that approval by January so the project can go out for bid at the end of February. The restoration work can then start in March.

The city will be reimbursed for 94.3 percent of the restoration work by a Federal Transportation Enhancement Grant. The city applied for the $500,000 grant in 2001 and received approval in 2002.

The grant is administered by the Arizona Department of Transportation. Kingman will have to match 5.7 percent of the cost of the project.

Despite its age, the depot is still structurally sound, Owen said. The old station will be receiving new doors, windows, paint, plumbing and electrical work, heating and air conditioning, stucco and new landscaping as part of the renovation work.

Ever since 2002, Kingman residents have been asking when work was going to begin.

A lot of people don't understand the grant process, said Bill Shilling, a city grant administrator. It can take many years to apply, receive approval and get funds from a grant for a project.

One extra step that has slowed the process is that the city has to seek approval of the plans from not only ADOT but also Amtrak and BNSF. Amtrak owns the building and BNSF owns the railroad tracks and the right of way next to the depot. Plans for the project have been shuttled back and forth between all three organizations.

The only major request has come from BNSF Railway. The railway has requested a wrought iron fence to be put up between the building and the BNSF railroad tracks.

The fence is designed to keep visitors away from the tracks, which are in constant use.

Once the work is complete, the station will once again see customers lining up for train tickets. Amtrak will be moving its current ticket office from its tiny space on Fourth Street back into the western half of the depot. The eastern half of the building will become a railroad museum with exhibits and artifacts from railroad enthusiasts and the Mohave Museum of History and Arts.

The building is nearly 100 years old. It was built in the early 1900s by the Santa Fe Railway of reinforced concrete and may be one of the oldest concrete buildings in the state.

It's also one of many historic buildings in downtown Kingman on the National Registry of Historic Places.