Teamwork creates historic preservation opportunity
The Oregon Department of Transportation is pleased to partner with several organizations, agencies and individuals to restore the historic Baggage Depot at the Salem Railroad Station.
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As important as this site is for ODOT’s intermodal future, we are only funded for a portion of the desired long-term improvements at this time. The current budget will upgrade the existing depot, provide a ticketing office and bus operations area for Greyhound, and create space for other bus services as to use. We also plan able to make environmental improvements for the depot and its surroundings as well as improve bike and pedestrian access for daytime or nighttime use.
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Jan. 2014: The Salem Historic Landmark Commission approved the plans! After thorough review and discussion, the Salem Historic Landmark Commission (HLC), on Dec. 19, unanimously approved our proposal to renovate the Salem Railroad Baggage Depot.
“The commissioners praised the efforts on the project,” said ODOT Project Manager Tony Snyder. “They were pleased that the building is being renovated and upgraded to give it a functional use that ensures it will be available for years to come.”
At the meeting, Kimberli Fitzgerald of the city of Salem and Jay Raskin of Nathan Good Architects presented the particulars of the plan. The city recommended that the commission approve the plans, which include the building exterior, repair strategy, bus operations and parking layout, window/door plan, and 3 new canopies for the bus parking. The commission did approve the plans, and now, according to Snyder, the more visible work begins.
“I anticipate the design process will accelerate now that we have an approved plan for the site,” Snyder said. “We now have a framework on which to develop the plans for construction.”
Brackets are redwood! When our restorer, Amy McCauley of Oculus Fine Carepentry, Inc., removed the first six brackets on the historic building and began cleaning them, she discovered the brackets were made of redwood.
"Spectacular!" she said, and she's seen a lot of fine craftmanship in her time, having recently completed restorations at the Cape Blanco Lighthouse
Not everyone was surprised, though. According to rail historian Ed Austin, Southern Pacific often sourced material from California... thus, redwood was fairly common in rail facilities on the West Coast (see before/after photo below).
Next steps: 1) Produce plans and specifications that meet city development and building codes so that we can obtain a building permit; 2) Determine the environmental impacts associated with the project’s “impervious areas” – parking lots, sidewalks, etc. This will allow us to complete our NEPA submittal documentation that we are preparing for the Federal Transit Administration; 3) Investigate advantages and disadvantages of the two options for Cherriots bus stop locations; 4) Ensure contracts are in place for continued success.
Nov., 2013: ODOT's Project Team is meeting regularly to keep the rehabilitation of the historic depot moving forward. See a review of the baggage depot's "change over time" in this document. Topics of discussion go beyond the building and include on-site pedestrian movement, entrance/exit locations, parking space design alternatives and more. The overriding theme is "multimodal connections" (after historical rehabilitation, of course!).
Oct., 2013: Our volunteer Technical Advisory Committee members have been working hard! They've been reviewing preliminary plans from the architect and learning more about the history of the depot. Cleanup work is finished and even resulted in a special find: a 1920's baggage receipt book. ODOT Historian Chris Bell and others are making sure the weathered booklet is being well cared for, and it may even be on display when the rehabilitated depot is opened.
Sept., 2013: Cleanup work is beginning this month, with an eye toward preserving as much of the historical material as possible. Contractor Phil-Am Enterprises will be on site, preparing the building and grounds for the next steps in the renovation process.
August, 2013: ODOT has contracted with David Evans & Associates and architect Nathan Good for the initial work (concept plans and permitting); this is where the contractor researches what processes will be required before the next steps can take place. Budgets are being finalized through this process, and plans are being set to gather public input on design and other details.
July, 2013: Our volunteer group of citizens met at the historic facility in July for a tour and to learn about initial concept plans.
June, 2013: We're making progress! In July, our volunteer group of advisors from around the community will meet and tour the site; our consultants will be on the job, providing overall guidance so we can know more about our options. Stay tuned!
April, 2013: We're organizing public involvement. For more information, contact Jean Palmateer, email@example.com or (503) 986-3472.
March, 2013: We now have this project programmed into the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (KN16212). It is set for $176,000 for preliminary engineering work and $5,000 for right of way acquisition.
Feb. 21, 2013: Our Public Transit staff has identified funds we can use for the critical planning portion of rehabilitating the historic Salem Railroad Baggage Depot. These funds will cover the Architecture and Engineering requirements, including traffic analysis, landscape planning and more.
Preserving and restoring the baggage depot is a multi-partner undertaking. A multimodal project such as this, by its nature, is only possible because of monies from different fund types, each with its own requirements and limits for use.
For example, Federal Highway Administration funds for the building renovation and Federal Transit Administration funds for the bus access and operating area will each pay for a part of the overall project but must be tracked separately. ODOT gas tax funds cannot be used for transit activities as they are constitutionally earmarked for highway and highway-related projects.
This project is fortunate to have private donations and grant funds to support it. The funding scenario is clearly looking up, but it remains complex, and the entire project funding picture is still under development as ODOT moves forward, with our vital partners, to create a multimodal facility that will benefit future users.
Feb. 1, 2013: ODOT is in the process of applying for funds from the Federal Transit Administration to cover the costs of activities that are not eligible expenditures under the other funding already committed. We'll be hosting open houses and collecting input from nearby residents, stakeholders and others interested in this project in the near future.
Current funding commitments:
- Transportation Enhancement: $575,200
- Anonymous donor: $96,000
- Greyhound: $60,000
- State Historical Preservation Office: $20,000
- Public Transit Division: $10,000
Total estimated cost of the project is $875,000 which includes about $692,000 for the depot restoration and $183,000 to reconfigure and improve access for buses, bicyclists and pedestrians.
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The 1889 Baggage Depot at the Salem railroad station is one of the last 19th century railroad depots in Oregon. Salvaged from a fire in 1917 that burned Salem’s second railroad station, it became a stand-alone freight handling facility in 1918, and served its purpose well until roughly the last 20 years when it became obsolete and has sat vacant. The building sits next to the 1918 Beaux Arts Station, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
By rehabilitating the facility, ODOT and its partners hope to create a regional multimodal transportation hub. In phase one, the building would receive extensive restoration work, including exterior wall finishes. In phase two, the restoration would focus on the interior, such as bringing it up to compliance with ADA and building a ticket counter and waiting area. Phase three would include construction of bike and pedestrian access to the site and outdoor passenger amenities.
Future phases of work on the facility, dependent on funding, would result in a multimodal facility and transportation alternatives center for Salem area residents.
Let us know your thoughts about restoring the historic baggage depot! Contact Jean Palmateer in ODOT Public Transit:
For media inquiries, contact: Shelley M. Snow, ODOT Public Affairs
cell: (503) 881-5362
Links and resources
Learn more about passenger rail in Oregon.
Find out about Amtrak Cascades routes, schedules, fares and reservations.
Keep up on what's happening in public transit around the state.
Learn more about historic preservation efforts in Salem.
The Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation is a resource for rail history and preservation.