City can paint depot for BNSF

The permit is in the mail.

The city of Kingman can finally begin painting the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway depot at city cost.

The permit allowing the city of Kingman to occupy the area around the depot while the city paints the building for the railroad has passed the BNSF red tape.

Rudy Almaguer, superintendent of the BNSF Arizona Division, called City Manager Lou Sorensen with the news following the Monday joint meeting of the city council and railroad representatives.

The process began in the fall when Mike McCallister, BNSF track supervisor, met with city officials to explore renovation and use of the depot.

"I know the depot will look as nice after the city does the painting as it did 30 years ago when the city last painted the depot for the railroad," Sorensen said.

A group of local residents led by Maggie Hughes painted the depot while Sorenson was city engineer 28 years ago.

"As far as I know, that is the last time the depot was painted," he said.

The railroad sent a list of requirements that the city must enforce during the painting.

Almaguer said the city must install a six foot tall safety construction fence eight feet from the tracks beside the depot.

BNSF will provide a train flagger at no cost to the city while the temporary fence is being built.

With the fence in place, a flagger will not be required while the painters work.

The fence builders and painters must pass a safety course before beginning work.

While working at the depot, fence builders and painters are required to wear lace-up steel-toed boots, a hard hat and safety glasses with side shields.

No bucket truck or similar equipment is allowed between the building and the tracks.

The city must send the BNSF a copy of the city liability insurance contract.

The city has budgeted $8,000 to paint the depot for BNSF and has advertised the project to contractors.

"We will allow the contractors to amend bids in response to the safety requirements, if they desire," said Bill Shilling, depot painting project director for the city.

Shilling said a contract for Bill Otwell, an architect who specializes in historic buildings, to do a structural evaluation of the depot will be on the June 18 council agenda.

City Parks Director Darel Fruhwirth said structural problems were discovered when he asked contractors to look at the depot before the city decided to paint.

The evaluation will be used for grant applications for the city to renovate the depot with BNSF permission.

It is likely to take three years to work through grants and railroad permission McCallister said.

He has worked with other Northern Arizona cities, including Flagstaff, to improve depots for city use.

"You have to be patient," he said.

"The results are worth the time spent."

The depot has been empty and the windows boarded since BNSF contracted for asbestos abatement in late 2000.

"The railroad did not know what problems the asbestos abatement would cause," said Jim McErlean, city building inspector and plan checker.

"We got involved when a window fell out.

BNSF and the city building department found that the asbestos contractor had gutted the building."

Rather than renovate the depot and deal with asbestos and the Disability Act requirements, BNSF closed the depot and moved the Amtrak waiting room to temporary quarters.

Since that time Amtrak has opened a waiting room and area for use by the train crew in the 100 block of Fourth Street.

City staff and railroad representatives have been discussing use of the depot by the city as part of the renovation of historic downtown Kingman.

"We worked with Flagstaff to use the depot there and are proud of the results," McCallister said.

'It takes time, but I would personally like to see the Kingman depot become the same kind of asset."