The Hawk Eye: 02/04/2010
Fort Madison railroad depot renovations to begin in spring
By NICHOLAS BERGIN
FORT MADISON -- Work to raise the historic Santa Fe Depot -- the first step in its renovation for use as an Amtrak Depot -- should begin this spring.
Mayor Steve Ireland has worked four years to make the project a reality, and hopes renovations will be complete by next spring.
The Amtrak depot will share the building with the North Lee County Historical Society, which has leased the depot from the city for more than 40 years.
The Amtrak depot now is housed in a utilitarian building in an industrial are near the city wastewater treatment plant. BNSF Railway Co., which owns that building, would like to see Amtrak move so it can use the space for offices.
Moving Amtrak would bring the more than 8,000 travelers a year to the scenic Riverview Park and city officials hope it will help increase traffic in the nearby downtown area.
The city still must work out a new contract with Amtrak. Ireland said he does not see any issues with getting that done.
Officials plan to elevate the depot and adjacent freight office at a cost of $972,000; perform interior renovations of the depot for $488,000; and construction of a passenger rail platform for $1.84 million.
The buildings will be raised more than 4 feet by constructing platforms. Doing so will protect the city's investment by raising the buildings a foot above the 500-year-floodplain.
During record flooding last summer, 39 inches of Mississippi River flowed through the Santa Fe depot.
The city has $3.2 million lined up for the project, including a $1.38 million Transportation Enhancement Grant from Iowa Department of Transportation; $173,395 from the city; $50,000 from BNSF Railway; $100,000 from the Fort Madison Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission; and a $1.13 million I-Jobs grant.
Also, Amtrak has indicated it could contribute up to $150,000 to the project, Mayor Steve Ireland said.
The Fort Madison City Council on Tuesday approved two contracts and a contract amendment related to raising the depot.
The contract amendment adds the I-Jobs grant to the list of existing project grants already being administered by Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission. The original contract cost the city $12,500 to be paid in three installments. The amendment adds an additional $10,000 to the cost.
The two contracts were signed with Klingner & Associates for engineering and architectural services. While engineering is mostly complete, the contracts are part of paperwork required by the I-Jobs grant.
Councilman Jason Huppert cast the lone vote against the contracts.