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  #41  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 6:28 PM
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Has it really been determined that a completely new station would cost more than moving and refurbishing the old depot? Or is this just what some people conjecture? From the pleminary plans it look like there would be this enormous curved shed not only over platforms but even over the old depot. What is that going to cost?

It's not very likely that your prefered alignment will be used since even with safety concerns UP and City have already made their decision right?

By moving the station the city would then own two blocks of vacant downtown land for development. Well call me cynical but if the past is any indication of the future then I'm afraid we'll end up with two blocks of surface parking lot for a long time. Won't the city own the depot and surrounding area either way? So they'll still get money for it if its developed. I'm not sure why tall buildings at that site are so important...but maybe it would be cool. I just don't have a lot of faith that it would end up good.

I'm not confused about what redneck means to me. The Fourth Edition of American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language has their definition, I have mine. Although a person (of any color) with provincial, bigoted attitudes would be a redneck in my mind. OK this is really the last thing I say about this ...really..
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  #42  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 6:28 PM
travis bickle travis bickle is offline
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
Well, yeah, moving the depot ismeans a lot of time and money, but it probably wouldn't be more expensive than building a new station in its place. The whole reason why a new depot was built in the 1920s was threefold: to make use of land previously occupied by Lake Sutter/China Slough, to have a train station that was closer to the heart of downtown, and to physically separate freight trains from passenger trains. The freights were run on the old tangent alignment (and location of the 1890s era station), and the passenger yard was placed in the current location to parallel the new station.

In my mind, that might be the best possible alignment: run a tangent track so freights don't have to slow down, and passengers won't have to dodge freights on the platforms. However, the final deal which allowed the city to take control of the station included an agreement to relocate the tracks to the old freight tangent, and there are safety concerns about switches and diamonds (which could increase risk of derailment for trains operating at speed) so close to the I Street Bridge.

Part of the appeal of moving the station is that the city would then own two blocks of relatively vacant downtown land, which would be good places for tall towers, and the station's new orientation would be closer to the Railyards while still close to downtown. It would also allow CSRM to transfer equipment to the Shops without using their current method of temporarily laying a piece of track across the UP mainline to shuffle equipment across within a ten-minute window. So there are pluses and minuses in both directions...
On balance, I think forcing the city to spend enormous sums of money to move the depot is wasteful. I may be wrong, but my understanding is that a major preservationist demand was that the building could only continue as a functioning station. There must have been alternatives - I would imagine all of them cheaper - that would have kept the building for a variety of uses while preserving the architectural heritage that didn’t involve this costly move.

I have to ask what the goal was - preserve a beautiful and integral part of Sacramento history - or force a big developer and city to give up a pound of flesh.

Now we are asking an architect to somehow tack on a new spectacular station to a relic that was probably undersized from the beginning - and certainly is now.
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  #43  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 6:57 PM
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Calling the SP depot "undersized" implies that it is fully utilized now, which it isn't. Much of the depot is vacant or underutilized, and even the portion in use isn't generally crowded. Busy, yes--one of the busiest in the state--but crowded or stretched beyond capacity, no, not even close. Add a bus terminal, a couple of restaurants and a gift shop, and who knows?

SORD originally advocated for maintenance of the original rail orientation and station position, but the city decided that the "Sacramento Northern" plan, one of four proposed plans, was the best one, and SORD signed on--it wasn't their idea.

Here's the city website with more background:
http://www.cityofsacramento.org/gene...sitf/faqs.html

I'm not sure what the point of the big triangular shed is either, personally I'm hoping that gets value-engineered out in favor of sheds closer to the current style.

About keeping the depot building where it is and building a new station, call me cynical but if the past is any indication of the future the station would sit vacant, a "homeless person" would start a fire inside "to keep warm" in the middle of August, and we'd have a parking lot for a couple of decades anyhow.

I think you may be overestimating the amount of authority and power that preservationists have in Sacramento, which is pretty minimal. At best it's like fighting a holding action.
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  #44  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 7:15 PM
travis bickle travis bickle is offline
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SORD originally advocated for maintenance of the original rail orientation and station position, but the city decided that the "Sacramento Northern" plan, one of four proposed plans, was the best one, and SORD signed on--it wasn't their idea.
Are you saying that the CITY is forcing the station's move?

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About keeping the depot building where it is and building a new station, call me cynical but if the past is any indication of the future the station would sit vacant, a "homeless person" would start a fire inside "to keep warm" in the middle of August, and we'd have a parking lot for a couple of decades anyhow.
Well, there is some cause for that cynicism, but many of us love the old station including city leaders and local developers/planners and it would have made an ideal venue for a variety of retail or cultural uses. Tax credits and other funding sources and public demand would have made the right deal not just possible, but likely.

My point is that a concerted effort to preserve that station in its present location with a complimentary use is a better solution than to spend millions moving and renovating an obsolete facility. I know the word "obsolete" is a hot-button issue for preservationists, but force-feeding a smaller, early 20th Century station onto a 21st Century market/infrastructure is problematic at best and will most likely lead to a confusing and cumbersome solution. At the very least it will be far expensive then it had to be.
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  #45  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 7:35 PM
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Originally Posted by travis bickle View Post
Are you saying that the CITY is forcing the station's move?
Yes, absolutely. SORD is just a small advocacy group, and really doesn't have the power to force anyone to do anything. The city makes the decisions on this matter, and at most they take what preservationists say under advisement, if they listen at all.

The depot was built in the 1920s, when rail transit was the primary mode of long-distance transportation in the United States, Southern Pacific was still the wealthiest and most powerful railroad in the western United States, and Sacramento was an important hub of the American railroad network. The original passenger yard occupied about three times as many tracks, so if anything the current track configuration is far, far less than the capacity of the 1920s era depot: the interior of the station, as I mentioned, is highly underutilized and could handle considerably more traffic than it currently does.

On what information do you base your assessment that the station is obsolete, or undersized?
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  #46  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 7:53 PM
travis bickle travis bickle is offline
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Yes, absolutely. SORD is just a small advocacy group, and really doesn't have the power to force anyone to do anything. The city makes the decisions on this matter, and at most they take what preservationists say under advisement, if they listen at all.
Well then I need more education. I would never have thought that the city would vote to spend fat cash to move the station. In fact, I recalled that the preservationists groups had forced the city to move it. I stand corrected and I appreciate your input. But it seems pretty irresponsible for the city to spend money on a superfluous item like moving the station.

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On what information do you base your assessment that the station is obsolete, or undersized?
Just when I (infrequently) use it. Always seems to be bursting at the seams. If rail/light rail travel increases as I hope it will (of course, no HSR in Sac.), the facility's size and layout becomes more of an issue.
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  #47  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 8:13 PM
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As mentioned before, preservationists really can't force anyone to do anything. We can cajole, plead, beg and make the case for why it's often better to preserve buildings than knock them down, but that's about it.

I suggest taking a look at the City's website: I'm pretty sure that their analysis, including staff reports, of all four possible alternatives are there, and wouldn't be surprised if they included some cost breakdowns.

I'm at the station once in a while, and my main complaint is that the lines are long because Amtrak is so understaffed. There is the potential to add quite a few more service windows, and, as mentioned before, if they actually used the rest of the station they would add a whole lot more capacity and throughput--and I share your hope that rail travel will continue to increase.

Oh yeah, one element of the rail reorientation plan is to leave lanes open for a potential future HSR link with the station, although I'm certainly not holding my breath for that to arrive.
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  #48  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 8:24 PM
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From my understanding (and this could be hazy since it's been so long), the City is planning to move the depot only because SORD did not want it used for any other purpose than as the station itself. Since as part of the sale agreement, UP wanted the tracks to move north, the only way to accomplish the same use for the depot was to move it next to the tracks.

I think the depot is a very nice building and should be preserved, but there is no need to keep it's use as the rail station. I think it would be a horrible waste of money. That said, I don't think it will actually happen. We'll see.
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  #49  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 9:29 PM
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The impression I got from travis bickle was that preservationists were somehow FORCING the city to do this, when they really don't have any way to apply such force. The alternatives presented by the city were basically "move it or lose it," so SORD said "well, okay, move it then" and supported the "Sacramento Northern" plan (the relocation of the existing station) and the city picked that plan. That's about the extent of SORD's influence on the decision.

As to whether or not it will actually happen, who can say? It's kind of a weird idea, but it isn't impossible--and a lot of the structural stuff that would have to be done, like interior bracing and putting the building on rollers, are things that would be required for seismic upgrades anyhow. We'll see.
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  #50  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 9:41 PM
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the problem will turn out to be the massive amount the city has pledged to spend on the land deal for the intermodal, combined with the maasive cost to move (straighten) the tracks, then the cost of moving and renovating the old station.... then they have to actually build the new station.

i hope everything on that list can happen without delaying the new station. but that seems a tall order.

here are multiple concepts for the intermodal area.
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  #51  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 9:54 PM
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Well, paying for it is always the rub...personally, I hope they can find a way to do it on the cheap, do a simple renovation & utilization of the current station in its current location, skip the track realignment and thumb their noses at UP. What are they gonna do, ask for their station back?

I suppose that if they can figure a way to get traffic and pedestrians under the mainline they can use the space beyond the current tracks for more parking: it would utilize the space, fill a need, and not obstruct the view of the Shops buildings. Maybe cover the lot with solar collectors too?

I have a sneaking suspicion that there is more going on here than any of us know about--considering that there are other organizations involved in all this Railyards/Intermodal plan who CAN force the city to do things, who have a hell of a lot more power and money than a couple of dozen railroad buffs.
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  #52  
Old Posted Jun 6, 2007, 9:56 PM
travis bickle travis bickle is offline
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
The impression I got from travis bickle was that preservationists were somehow FORCING the city to do this, when they really don't have any way to apply such force. The alternatives presented by the city were basically "move it or lose it," so SORD said "well, okay, move it then" and supported the "Sacramento Northern" plan (the relocation of the existing station) and the city picked that plan. That's about the extent of SORD's influence on the decision.

As to whether or not it will actually happen, who can say? It's kind of a weird idea, but it isn't impossible--and a lot of the structural stuff that would have to be done, like interior bracing and putting the building on rollers, are things that would be required for seismic upgrades anyhow. We'll see.
The way I remember it was that preservation groups were forcing the city to move the station and use it exclusively as a functioning terminal through the threat of a lawsuit.

This is a common ploy among anti fill-in-the-blank groups. They know that the window of opportunity for every project is limited. If you want to kill a project, you tie it up in the courts, or incessantly appeal, or demand more hearings or any number of other ways to drag a project out without actually having to go on the record of opposing it.

That is what I recalled as happening, preservation groups had threatened to sue and instead of fighting them and potentially losing critical federal/state funding the city capitulated to this extortion and agreed to move the terminal.

wburg has corrected my recollection and I am grateful.

But that is what I meant by forcing the city to move the station. If SORD didn't use it here, they certainly are aware of the tactic as every preservation group with which I have dealt has implied, if not overtly stated, this tool was at their disposal.
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  #53  
Old Posted Jun 7, 2007, 12:03 AM
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I suppose it's not outside the realm of possibility, but generally lawsuits require money, and such groups are not particularly deep-pocketed. Also considering the fact that the city council approved this plan several years ago, knowing that it would probably be years before the sale actually went through and more years before it was executed, the idea of a lawsuit as a delaying tactic seems almost redundant.
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  #54  
Old Posted Jun 7, 2007, 12:13 AM
travis bickle travis bickle is offline
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I suppose it's not outside the realm of possibility, but generally lawsuits require money, and such groups are not particularly deep-pocketed. Also considering the fact that the city council approved this plan several years ago, knowing that it would probably be years before the sale actually went through and more years before it was executed, the idea of a lawsuit as a delaying tactic seems almost redundant.
Usually what happens is that the "aggrieved" party gets attorney’s fees included in any settlement. That is the way it has happened in every single instance with which I have been involved. It becomes a question of how long a city/developer/project can hold out. But the "injured' party pays virtually nothing and the lawyer is paid by taxpayers.

C'mon wburg - you know how the game is played.
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  #55  
Old Posted Jun 7, 2007, 12:40 AM
fatchocolatecow fatchocolatecow is offline
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Well, paying for it is always the rub...personally, I hope they can find a way to do it on the cheap, do a simple renovation & utilization of the current station in its current location, skip the track realignment and thumb their noses at UP. What are they gonna do, ask for their station back
Since the track relocation is part of the sale agreement, the city and Thomas Enterprises would certainly be sued by UP if they tried to back out of the relocation. Even though Stan Thomas is a rich man, UP has more money than God and could outlast both parties in a lawsuit, and would probably get the station back if they wanted it.

wburg: Do you know why preservasionists/SORD are so adamant about not changing the use of the station?
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  #56  
Old Posted Jun 7, 2007, 2:23 AM
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There's been talk of relocating the tracks further north for some time.

Southern Pacific wanted to do this for years. The track does an "S" turn east of the depot, which limits the speed of the trains going through that area. Also the S turn is very tight for some freight trains to maneuver through.

When I was volunteering at the CSRM, a train did derail in that S turn area due to the tight turns of the track.
The track relocation idea has been on the drawing table for a long time.
There was an idea at the time to build a new station along the new tracks, and use the old station building as the lobby for a new hotel that would be built on to the back of the old station.

Another thing the Southern Pacific didn't like was the I Street bridge. Especially when it broke down while it was either opening or closing. This would shut down the mainline completely.

This is a bit off topic, but what's going to happen to that rickety bridge?
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  #57  
Old Posted Jun 7, 2007, 1:58 PM
travis bickle travis bickle is offline
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There was an idea at the time to build a new station along the new tracks, and use the old station building as the lobby for a new hotel that would be built on to the back of the old station.
Now that sounds like a great idea. What doesn't SORD like about that?
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  #58  
Old Posted Jun 7, 2007, 5:18 PM
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travis bickle: No, I suppose I don't know how the game is played. All I know, from my experiences, is that preservationists generally lose that game, or at best manage a stalemate.

fcc: I can't speak on behalf of the preservation community as a whole, or of SORD, but personally I think that removing the depot from the railroad context is more damaging than relocating it. The key point, when it comes to historic buildings, is that you can't just build another historic building in its place--they are a non-renewable resource. Cities' experiences seem to have varied when it comes to reuse of rail depots, but the patterns I notice is that cities that are still active rail hubs (like Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver) chose to renovate and reuse their depots, while cities that are no longer active hubs (like Salt Lake City and Omaha) chose to close their stations and provide passenger facilities out of small tilt-up or portable-type buildings, commonly known as "Amshacks." The depots themselves are often left to decay, although Omaha has an adaptive reuse project underway.

Given Sacramento's history and continuing importance in regional rail, it makes them most sense to me to continue the depot in its historic role. Whether that role is maintained by building a large concourse between the depot and the boarding area or moving the building is less important to me than the depot's preservation.
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  #59  
Old Posted Jun 7, 2007, 5:45 PM
travis bickle travis bickle is offline
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
travis bickle: No, I suppose I don't know how the game is played. All I know, from my experiences, is that preservationists generally lose that game, or at best manage a stalemate.

fcc: I can't speak on behalf of the preservation community as a whole, or of SORD, but personally I think that removing the depot from the railroad context is more damaging than relocating it. The key point, when it comes to historic buildings, is that you can't just build another historic building in its place--they are a non-renewable resource. Cities' experiences seem to have varied when it comes to reuse of rail depots, but the patterns I notice is that cities that are still active rail hubs (like Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver) chose to renovate and reuse their depots, while cities that are no longer active hubs (like Salt Lake City and Omaha) chose to close their stations and provide passenger facilities out of small tilt-up or portable-type buildings, commonly known as "Amshacks." The depots themselves are often left to decay, although Omaha has an adaptive reuse project underway.

Given Sacramento's history and continuing importance in regional rail, it makes them most sense to me to continue the depot in its historic role. Whether that role is maintained by building a large concourse between the depot and the boarding area or moving the building is less important to me than the depot's preservation.
What other cities have done with or to their historic depots shouldn't have any bearing on what Sacramento does with hers as long as there is a viable, finaceable plan in place. Part of that would be a realistic schedule to be certain that the building doesn't sit empty for years. I haven't seen anyone asking to destroy a non-renewable resource. So I think that is a straw man argument at best.

Seems to me that being used as the opulent lobby for a new hotel is hardly the standard definition of decay. It could relatively easily be tied to a new station and serve as a grand entrance to Sacramento in all of its fully restored glory. I still don't see what's wrong with that and have heard nothing other than you feel it would be more destructive (how?) to use it as anything other than a station or that somehow using it as anything else results in Amshacks. I just don't see it that way.

A complimentary use - such as a hotel lobby - still gets you a beautifully restored integral part of Sacramento history and the city gets to save millions that can go to the construction of a spectacular 21st century station. That seems win-win to me.
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  #60  
Old Posted Jun 7, 2007, 6:05 PM
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Spectacular 21st century stations also need finance plans. You asked me why I considered the original station important, and I expressed my opinion. I am not in love with the depot-moving concept, but I can live with it, so if my defense of the plan seems fairly shaky it's because it isn't my plan.

If you take serious issue with it, I'd suggest talking to the City Council, or at least with city staff. I do it all the time, with mixed responses, and they might be able to provide the dollars-and-cents data on how much it will cost compared with other potential plans. Better yet, I'd recommend coming to tonight's meeting at the depot tonight and expressing your opinion--Thomas Enterprises and the city are having an open house on the railyards project (6-8 PM, in the model room) and they are looking for public input.
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