KINGMAN - After eight long years of setbacks, red tape and shifting expectations, the Kingman Train Depot is finally scheduled to begin undergoing exterior and interior renovations as early as this week.
The news comes as a triumph for Kingman Public Works Director Rob Owen and Grant Administrator Bill Shilling, who have been with the project since it was first put forward in a grant application nearly a decade earlier. In 2002, the Arizona Department of Transportation agreed to grant the city $600,000 to rehabilitate the building, one of Kingman's oldest at 103 years old, to resemble what it first looked like in 1907.
Over the years, however, the city encountered roadblock after roadblock, with no fewer than five separate regulatory agencies overseeing each part of the process. The city first had to spend two years securing a long-term lease from Amtrak for the property before an architect could begin doing the design work for the rehabilitation.
Amtrak also returned with an offer to construct a 700-foot platform for the depot expanding from Fourth Street east to where the tracks start to turn, which Shilling said required additional multi-agency greenlighting as well as precise time coordination, due to strict railroad safety requirements.
"We scheduled our depot renovation with the Amtrak platform construction so we would do this concurrently and so we could take advantage of the railroad's safety team," Shilling said. "They have very, very stringent safety protocol when you're working near the tracks, and that safety crew is expensive."
The city was dealt another setback in 2009 when it learned the sewer pipes servicing the depot were non-functional and had to be either replaced or worked around. The city only recently awarded a bid to Freiday Construction to install a lift station that will pump the sewage from the depot uphill to the Andy Devine Avenue sewer line.
Shilling said the decision would allow the city to avoid digging under the railroad tracks to replace the existing sewer line, which would again require a lengthy approval period from the railroad itself.
"It's been a long, long complicated process," he said. "We're all excited and relieved to have this thing underway."
The bid for the external and internal renovations was awarded to T.R. Orr, whose $535,000 bid came in well below the total grant amount. If T.R. Orr stays to its estimate, Shilling said, the city will have thousands left over to pay for the lift station as well as the inclusion of several project components it had to cut out earlier in the process.
"Back when the boom was on and we thought the cost of our improvements was going to exceed the $600,000, at that time we had to scale down the scope of the project by taking out some things like landscaping, picnic tables - we even had this little ramada and picnic table at the east end of the property," Shilling said. "We might take a look as this moves along, and if we find out we've got some money, we may take a look at putting some landscaping back in."
In addition to the exterior renovation, Shilling said the project will include the creation of a new Amtrak waiting room inside the depot, replacing the current waiting room at 106 Fourth St., which requires passengers to cross Andy Devine Avenue to get to the platform itself.
The interior renovation will also include space for what Shilling said may become a railroad museum, though the details of that remain undecided. The renovations are scheduled to be complete by early November, with Amtrak expected to begin opening the depot to passengers shortly thereafter.